Sabres Host Canes in Penultimate Home Game

The Sabres host the Hurricanes in their penultimate home game of the season on Saturday afternoon.

Sabres Host Canes in Penultimate Home Game

Game 78

Buffalo Sabres (38-32-7) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (50-19-9)

Puck Drop: 12:30 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY


Radio: WGR 550

Know Your Opponent

Carolina Hurricanes

Record: (50-19-9)

Last Game: 3-0 loss to Nashville

Division Ranking: 1st in Metropolitan Division

PP: 20.3 (19th)

PK: 83.9% (2nd)

What to Watch

1. Need Another Win

It feels repetitive to keep saying that this is another big game, and that the Sabres need to win today - but it's true. Saturday is a packed day in the NHL, with every team in action. This afternoon's game won't be a cakewalk by any stretch, as the Hurricanes are top of their division and, per, have a 60.5 percent chance of winning today's game.

The Sabres need to come out strong in this one from the get-go. Score first, don't get behind. Play a full 60 minutes, and all of those other typical hockey cliches. One point of note: although the Sabres' power play is among the best in the NHL, it may not mean a whole lot today as they face the Canes, who have the second-best penalty kill in the league.

2. Use Lethal Offense

The Sabres have a really strong offensive core this season, and they need to keep using it to their advantage. Tage Thompson is just eight points from 100 on the season. Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner each have 73 points, while Rasmus Dahlin sits at 69. Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt are next in line, both over 50 points.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are led by Martin Necas with 69 points, and Sebastian Aho, who has 34 goals and 64 points. Only two other players, one of whom is on injured reserve, have broken the 50-point mark. Carolina's offense is not as lethal as Buffalo's - the Sabres have scored 276 goals this season, to Carolina's 247. Where Buffalo may have other weak spots, the team needs to keep using its offense to find those little boosts.

But, while we're on the topic of scoring, we can't ignore the importance of defense. With Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen expected to get the start Saturday, the Sabres need to play stronger in front of him. UPL regularly lets in more goals and that often results in Buffalo needing to score more in order to have a chance at a win. With only a handful of games left in the regular season, and each a must-win, it needs to be a complete effort from every facet of the team.

3. In Other News...

In other news, the Rochester Americans clinched a playoff spot on Friday night. Second place in their division is still up for grabs. The Amerks beat the Syracuse Crunch in overtime 3-2 thanks to a game-winning goal from Jiri Kulich. That, combined with a Laval loss in regulation, gave the Amerks the clinch.

And of course, if you haven't heard by now, Devon Levi became the first goalie to win the Mike Richter Award in consecutive seasons. He was named the best goaltender in NCAA Division I men's college hockey on Friday night, one day ahead of the Frozen Four championship. Adam Fantilli, who is draft eligible this year, won the Hobey Baker.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres


Jeff Skinner - Casey Mittelstadt - Alex Tuch

Jordan Greenway - Dylan Cozens - Tage Thompson

JJ Peterka - Tyson Jost - Jack Quinn

Zemgus Girgensons - Peyton Krebs - Kyle Okposo


Rasmus Dahlin - Mattias Samuelsson

Owen Power - Henri Jokiharju

Riley Stillman - Ilya Lyubushkin

Goaltenders: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (projected starter), Devon Levi, Eric Comrie

Scratches: Vinnie Hinostroza, Kale Clague, Jacob Bryson, Craig Anderson

Carolina Hurricanes


Teuvo Teravainen - Sebastian Aho - Martin Necas

Stefan Noesen - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Jesse Puljujarvi

Jordan Martinook - Jordan Staal - Jesper Fast

Jack Drury - Derek Stepan - Seth Jarvis


Jaccob Slavin - Brent Burns

Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce

Shayne Gostisbehere - Jalen Chatfield

Goaltenders: Antti Raanta, Frederik Andersen

Injuries: Jake Gardiner, Ondrej Kase, Max Pacioretty, Andrei Svechnikov