While ninth-place Carolina hopes to pick up much-needed points on visiting Buffalo, the Sabres seek to distance themselves from the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference standings when the teams meet in a critical contest.
Carolina (38-30-10) can tie seventh-place Buffalo in the standings with a regulation victory, but a win of any sort may push them into a tentative postseason spot. The ninth-place Hurricanes are one point behind the eighth-place New York Rangers, who face Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.
Carolina improved to 6-1-0 over its last seven games with a 4-2 win Saturday against the New York Islanders. Joe Corvo(notes), Erik Cole(notes) and Eric Staal(notes) scored in the third period to erase a one-goal deficit and help the Hurricanes win their third straight.
Rookie Jeff Skinner(notes) was held without a point against the Islanders, but has five goals and eight assists over his last seven games. Skinner has a goal and an assist in three meetings with Buffalo this season.
“If you allow the tension and negativity of the ramifications of a potential negative outcome to affect that, then you’re tanked,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. “We need to go out and just play.”
Cole has seven points during Carolina’s seven-game hot streak.
“It’s preparing us for what playoff hockey is going to be like. The ups and downs, the momentum changes,” Cole said. “But more importantly, it’s teaching us that we can’t have a group that goes out and be tense. We have to be loose. We have to play the way we’re capable.”
Carolina hopes to continue the momentum and beat Buffalo for the third time in four tries this season.
Enroth has never faced the Hurricanes.
After allowing the first two goals Saturday, the Sabres rallied to take two separate one-goal leads in the third period before the Capitals tied it each time. Alex Ovechkin(notes) scored 3:19 into overtime.
Buffalo fell three points behind sixth-place Montreal, which defeated New Jersey on Saturday.
“Could have had two points, but this time of year we’ll take this point and try to get two tomorrow,” Vanek said.
Vanek had two assists Jan. 13 in the Sabres’ 3-2 victory over the Hurricanes.
Buffalo has not lost in regulation in Carolina since Oct. 24, 2007, going 2-0-4 in six visits since.