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Panthers vs. Sabres Preview: The March To The Playoffs Continue

The Buffalo Sabres have had two nights off after their 2-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens and the teams around them in the Eastern Conference playoff race have not played much either. The Sabres are four three points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes who will play tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning and they are four points behind the New York Rangers, who lost last night in a shootout. 

The Sabres have to just focus on the game at hand tonight against a team that have given them struggles this season. The Panthers are 2-1 against the Sabres this season, with Buffalo's lone win coming on February 10th in Sunset. With the role that the Sabres have been on and the fact that the streaking Devils are in town tomorrow, this could very well be a trap game for the Sabres tonight. 

On the lineup front, there should be no changes in the lineup as Jochen Hecht is close to returning to the lineup, but won't be playing against the Panthers tonight. Coach Lindy Ruff has a hard but nice decision to make when Hecht comes back, who does he take out of the lineup. From the Buffalo News this morning

"You've got four lines that are producing," Ruff said after practice Thursday morning in the Northtown Center at Amherst. "On different nights you're getting plays that make a difference in the game."

From where the Sabres were to start the season, that has to be a nice decision to make at this point in the season. More news and notes after the jump. 

- While the Sabres are only 1-2 against the Panthers this season, they do have success against them overall. The Sabres are 38-24-2 all time against the Panthers and 22-9-3 at home 

- Lost in the fray of all the Nathan Gerbe talk, Andrej Sekera has 15 points in his last 13 games. Sekera has always been a streaky player, he was pointless in the 19 games before that, but can produce points when he is feeling it. 

- The Panthers are in the midst of a five game road trip, their longest of the season, and have lost both games thus far on the trip. They have two more games after tonights against Buffalo.

- The Panthers have a season record against Buffalo this season, they scored four goals in the first period of their 6-2 win on December 17th, the most in any period. 

Game time is 7:30 pm and is on MSG. For those of you scoreboard watching, Carolina/Tampa Bay is on at 7:30 and will be on NHL Network