Their Northeast Division lead gone, the Buffalo Sabres are trying to close out their final two games before the Olympic break on a positive note.
Visiting the red-hot Carolina Hurricanes might not be the best way for the Sabres to get back on track.
Buffalo will try to avoid its longest losing streak in two seasons Thursday night when it faces a Hurricanes team that’s won seven of nine.
The Sabres (32-18-8) tied Washington atop the Eastern Conference with a 7-2 victory at Phoenix on Jan. 18, but with a 2-7-2 record since, Buffalo has lost its double-digit division lead over Ottawa, which has won 12 of 13 to forge a first-place tie.
Any sense of urgency coach Lindy Ruff expected from the Sabres on Tuesday against Boston was missing, as they allowed two first-period goals en route to a 3-2 overtime loss.
“When you lose four in a row, you’ve got to be better than that,” said Ruff, whose team will try to avoid its first six-game slide since an 0-5-5 stretch from Dec. 26, 2007-Jan. 16, 2008.
The Sabres, who host Western Conference-leading San Jose on Saturday in their final game prior to the Olympics, will try to snap a six-game road losing streak with their first game at RBC Center since ending Carolina’s franchise-record 12-game home winning streak with a 5-1 victory April 9.
The Hurricanes (22-30-7) have outscored opponents 17-5 while winning a season-high four straight at home.
Despite starting goaltender Cam Ward(notes) being sidelined the last three games with a back injury, Carolina is undefeated during this stretch. The Hurricanes’ penalty kill has stopped all 17 chances in the last four games and has allowed one power-play goal in the last eight.
“It’s phenomenal, just phenomenal,” goaltender Manny Legace(notes) told the Hurricanes’ official Web site. “It’s just hard work and dedication and you just take your hat off to the guys. We’re just working our butts off.”
The Sabres are 1 for 17 on the power play in their last four games.
Legace, who made 28 saves in a 4-3 victory at Buffalo on Friday in his first start in nearly eight weeks, is 4-0-0 with a 3.59 goals-against average in four career starts versus the Sabres.
If coach Paul Maurice gives the start to Justin Peters(notes), the 23-year-old will look to build on a 3-1 road victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday in which he turned away 34 shots in his NHL debut.
“There’s more confidence in the room than there’s been all year,” Maurice said following Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Florida. “We’re getting good goaltending.”