NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, April 3rd (All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (39-29-10) at Carolina Hurricanes (38-30-10), 5 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A huge battle in the Eastern Conference playoff race is on tap today in Raleigh, as the Buffalo Sabres visit the hard-charging Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center.
The desperate Hurricanes are the ninth seed in the East and are just one point behind the New York Rangers for the conference's eighth and final playoff berth. Carolina is also just two points in back of Buffalo. The 'Canes, Sabres and the Rangers, who play today in Philadelphia, all have four games left in the regular season.
Carolina appeared to be fading out of the playoff picture with a four-game losing streak in early March, but the Hurricanes enter today with wins in three straight and six of their last seven games.
The Sabres, meanwhile, have dropped two of their last three and are coming off Saturday's overtime loss in Washington.
The Hurricanes have won two of three meetings with Buffalo this season and all three games have been decided by just one goal. Carolina has won four of six overall in the series and the Sabres have lost two of three and five of their last seven tilts in Raleigh.
Carolina picked up its third straight win Saturday against the New York Islanders, as Eric Staal, Erik Cole and Joe Corvo scored in the third period to lift the 'Canes to the 4-2 road decision at Nassau Coliseum.
Corvo added had two assists for the Hurricanes. Jussi Jokinen also scored for Carolina and Cam Ward made 29 saves for the win.
"We're already in that mentality that we're just so desperate going into every game, especially when we're trailing in the third period," Corvo said. "We're so desperate that we don't have to change our mentality at all if we do make the playoffs."
Today's tilt marks the first of two straight on home ice for Carolina, which is 21-13-4 as the host and has won three of its last four in Raleigh.
The Sabres lost a close road game Saturday in D.C. as Alex Ovechkin scored with 1:41 left in overtime to give the Capitals a 5-4 win at Verizon Center. In the extra session, Ovechkin skated the puck from the deep left boards into the left circle and attempted a pass to the right side, but it deflected off of two Buffalo players and slid past Jhonas Enroth for the win.
Drew Stafford had two goals while Thomas Vanek and Paul Gaustad each lit the lamp in the loss for the Sabres, who had won four of five heading into Saturday. Enroth stopped 30 shots in the loss.
"There were some really funny goals by both teams today," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff. "But our defensemen kept getting caught cheating offensively and that will hurt you against a team like Washington."
Enroth has been forced to start the last two games due to an upper body injury to No. 1 netminder Ryan Miller. Enroth is expected to get the call again today and the rookie has never faced Carolina in his career.
Sabres forwards Mike Grier (knee) and Jochen Hecht (upper body) are questionable for today's contest.
Buffalo has lost its last two games on the road and is 20-13-6 as the guest this season.
04/03 10:50:31 ET