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Sabres Head to Raleigh for Round 2 With Canes

Buffalo looks to beat a tough Carolina team for the second game in a row.

Carolina Hurricanes v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Game 72

Buffalo Sabres (26-34-11) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (45-17-8)

Puck Drop: 7:30 PM EST | PNC Arena | Raleigh, NC

TV: ESPN+/Hulu

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Hurricanes Blog: Canes Country

Know Your Opponent

Carolina Hurricanes

Record: (45-17-8) | 98 PTS

Division Ranking: 1st in Metropolitan Division

Last Game: 4-2 loss vs. Sabres

PP: 23.8% (7th)

PK: 87.9% (1st)

What To Watch

1. Gaining Experience

Since the beginning of March, the Sabres have posted a very respectable 10-4-3 record while facing teams currently in a playoff position or fighting for a spot. While Buffalo will unfortunately miss the playoffs another season, the high level of competition they have faced recently gives the team a taste of what it's like to play playoff level hockey. Not only does this help the team's chemistry this season, but it will also carry a high level of confidence into next season, especially with many young players returning and coming in. Facing a top team like Carolina for a second game in a row will only benefit Buffalo as they continue to grow and become better as a team.

2. Having Fun

For the first time in a long time, and even with a below .500 record, it feels that this current Sabres team enjoys playing in Buffalo. Kyle Okposo, a leader on the team who has dealt with many injuries and struggles over the past few seasons, made a few very encouraging comments about the current status of the organization. “...I don’t want the year to end,” Okposo said in a press conference on Wednesday, “It’s been so much fun and I have a feeling that a lot of the guys in that room feel the same way.” Remarks like these from a player who has seen the lowest of the low in Buffalo since his arrival should get Sabres fans very excited for what the team is currently building.

3. Playing Spoiler

The Eastern Conference is a war zone right now, with many of the teams currently in a playoff position fighting for the top spots. Despite still holding on to the top spot in the Metro division, Carolina is only two points ahead of the Rangers, so a loss to Buffalo tonight would definitely hurt. The Sabres also have the chance to play spoiler against Florida, Tampa Bay, and Toronto in the next few games, who are all also in a race for the top spot in the Atlantic. If Buffalo can manage to beat Carolina again tonight in back-to-back games, and continue their momentum on to the next few opponents, they should put the East on notice for what’s to come in the near future.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch

Rasmus Asplund - Casey Mittelstadt - Victor Olofsson

Peyton Krebs - Dylan Cozens - Vinnie Hinostroza

Zemgus Girgensons - Cody Eakin - Kyle Okposo

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju

Mattias Samuelsson - Jacob Bryson

Casey Fitzgerald - Mark Pysyk

Starting Goaltender: Craig Anderson (expected)

Carolina Hurricanes

Forwards

Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Seth Jarvis

Max Domi - Vincent Trocheck - Teuvo Teravainen

Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast

Jordan Martinook - Derek Stepan - Martin Necas

Defense

Jaccob Slavin - Tony DeAngelo

Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce

Brendan Smith - Ian Cole

Starting Goaltender: Antti Raanta (expected)