Buffalo Sabres (16-16-9) at Carolina Hurricanes (19-15-7)
Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. EST | PNC Arena | Raleigh, NC
TV: MSG, FS-C | Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation’s Hurricanes Blog: Canes Country
1. How will special teams play out tonight?
The Sabres and Hurricanes are meeting for the third time in the past few weeks, and each time, their special teams have matched up strength for strength, and weakness for weakness. Carolina’s penalty kill is the best in the NHL, and the Sabres still have a top-10 power play despite last night’s horrid effort.
Meanwhile, the Sabres are still dead-last on their own PK, but Carolina’s power play has fallen off as of late, ranking 18th in the NHL.
2. Will we see Linus Ullmark in net tonight?
With no gameday skate, we won’t know much about tonight’s lineup until this evening, but Ullmark could see his first game of the season if Dan Bylsma doesn’t want to play Nilsson two nights in a row, and three nights out of four. Ullmark is having a nice season down in Rochester, and he was named an AHL All-Star thanks in part to him leading the AHL in three categories - shots against, saves, and minutes played. If not Ullmark, then Anders Nilsson will get another chance to make his case for more opportunities once Lehner recovers from the flu.
UPDATE: Dan Bylsma has confirmed that Nilsson will start in goal tonight.
3. Can the Sabres hang in third period?
The Sabres are playing the wrong end of a back-to-back, while Carolina is just starting the right end of their own back-to-back. Tired legs could decide the game in the third period should the Sabres wilt in the game’s final frame. Carolina is dominant at home, going 12-1-1 in their last 14, so it will be tough sledding for the tired team tonight.
Projected Buffalo Lines
48 William Carrier - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 15 Jack Eichel - 12 Brian Gionta
9 Evander Kane - 23 Sam Reinhart - 56 Justin Bailey
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 26 Matt Moulson
29 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
47 Zach Bogosian - 6 Cody Franson
41 Justin Falk - 38 Taylor Fedun
Goal: 31 Anders Nilsson