Every point is crucial for the Buffalo Sabres in their pursuit of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot, and a victory over one of the worst road teams in the NHL would help them keep pace.
Buffalo seeks a season-high fourth straight home victory Wednesday when it meets the Carolina Hurricanes, who continue their five-game road trip.
The Sabres (30-28-8) are tied for 10th place in the East and are four points behind eighth-place Winnipeg after falling to the Jets 3-1 on Monday. The loss snapped an eight-game point streak for Buffalo, which finished its road trip 3-1-1.
"I think if anybody would've said before we left that we'd win three of (five), you'd be pretty happy," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We just lost to the wrong team. We know we could've been in a lot better position if at least we got a point. That's the part that stings."
Buffalo has earned a point in 14 of its last 18 games, but Ruff said he didn't talk to the team about how well it's played recently.
"I talked about how we let a point slip away. We don't have that luxury," Ruff said.
The Sabres will welcome a Carolina team with a league-low eight road victories, though its first came in Buffalo with a 4-3 win Oct. 14.
The Hurricanes (25-27-14) began their longest trip of the season with a 4-3 overtime win over Washington on Tuesday, as Cam Ward made 46 saves.
Captain Eric Staal had an assist to give him seven goals and 14 assists during his 12-game point streak, which is the franchise's longest since it was known as the Hartford Whalers prior to the 1997-98 season.
"We felt like we played a pretty solid road game and were deserving to get the two points," Staal said.
Ward made 39 saves in October's win in Buffalo, then stopped 31 shots in a 4-2 victory Jan. 6 to improve to 4-0-1 with a 1.78 goals-against average in his last five starts versus the Sabres.
Both victories this season came against Ryan Miller, who is 0-3-1 with a 2.79 GAA in his last four starts against the Hurricanes.
Miller, though, has played well of late, going 6-1-1 with a 1.60 GAA in his last eight starts. He said despite the Sabres being outside the East playoff picture at the moment, anything can happen down the stretch.
"We have plenty more opportunities (to earn points)," Miller said. "I don't think anyone in this pack (of playoff contenders) is going to run the table, so we just have to be good."
The Hurricanes have not been officially eliminated, though they are second-to-last in the conference and eight points behind Winnipeg with 16 games remaining. They've remained in the hunt by picking up at least one point in 18 of their last 22 games, going 11-4-7.
Carolina has played six consecutive one-goal games, and recent matchups with Buffalo also have been tight.
Prior to the most recent meeting, the previous six were decided by one goal, including the Sabres' 1-0 win Nov. 18.
Sabres leading scorer Jason Pominville, who has gone without a point in six straight games, scored in that contest.
- Buffalo Sabres