The Carolina Hurricanes beat Buffalo in last season’s Eastern Conference finals, but the Sabres are looking like the team to beat this season.
The Sabres look to match the longest road winning streak in franchise history when they visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes at the RBC Center on Monday.
Buffalo (14-1-1) beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in overtime on Saturday, extending their franchise record for road wins to start a season to nine. The Sabres’ record for consecutive road wins at any point in a single season is 10, set from December 1983-January 1984.
Buffalo has won three straight overtime games since its only regulation loss this season, a 4-1 defeat against Toronto on Nov. 4.
“It tells you that we have a good team here,” coach Lindy Ruff told the sabres.com Web site of his team’s success on the road and in overtime. “We’ve got a lot of talent and they deserve the credit for it.
“You don’t win on the road unless you have a good team.”
Last season, the Sabres were knocked out of the playoffs in a seven-game series against the Hurricanes, who went on to beat the Edmonton Oilers in seven in the Stanley Cup finals.
However, Buffalo has won both its games against Carolina this season, including a 3-2 road shootout victory on Oct. 4 in the season-opener for both teams. The Sabres also beat the Hurricanes 5-4 on Oct. 20 in Buffalo.
Daniel Briere scored the game-tying and game-winning goals Saturday for the Sabres, who have outscored opponents 69-46 this season and rank among the league leaders in goals scored. Briere also has scored at least a point in 14 of 16 games this season.
“We don’t expect (Miller) to be out too long,” Ruff told the team’s Web site. “It’s something that just kind of flared up on him.”
Right wing Maxim Afinogenov, who has eight goals and 11 assists, has missed the last three games with a slightly separated shoulder.
The Hurricanes (9-6-3) started off slow this season, but have gone 9-3-2 in their last 14 games, including Saturday’s 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I just know we started playing a little bit better, and even when we weren’t winning some games we were playing pretty well,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s consistent hockey, and that’s what we’re trying to do, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job lately of that.”
Goalie Cam Ward, who is 9-5-2 with a 2.84 goals-against average in 16 games this season, was coming off his first career regular-season shutout on Nov. 9 against Washington and made 18 saves.