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Buffalo Sabres Head to Carolina for First of Home-and-Home

January 24th, 2013 at 11:42 AM
By Mike Matisz

The Buffalo Sabres are off to a hot start this season carrying their 2-0 record to Carolina, who have done much of the opposite. 

The Hurricanes enter this tilt 0-2 and are coming off of two weak offensive performances. So far this season, the Canes have been outscored 9-2, losing to the Florida Panthers 3-1 and the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1.

The Hurricanes made a splash in the offseason by picking up forwards Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal. So far, both players have only one assist and both appear in the negative column in +/-.

The problem for the Canes has been goaltending. Cam Ward to date is 0-2, giving up eight goals on 38 shots. That's a goals against average of 6.00 and a save percentage of .789. If the Canes want to get back into the mix early, they may turn to backup Dan Ellis to provide the spark in net.

The Sabres start has come from being a gritty team that wears down its opponent. The come into the game averaging 3.5 goals per game, while only giving up 1.5. The Sabres also are scoring on 33 percent of their powerplays, a drastic improvement from last season's average.

A major reason why teams aren't as successful against the Sabres could be Ryan Miller and his .953 save percentage. Teams are finding it tough to beat the Sabres starter, especially late in the game. Toronto was able to crack the wall once, but that was on a six-on-four scenario. 

Buffalo last played Monday in Toronto, winning 2-1 in regulation.

Carolina last played at home Tuesday to a 4-1 loss to Tampa. 

Look for an inspired Carolina team to try to earn some points after losing two straight division tilts. But the Sabres are hoping to head in the right direction early against non-division foes and back-to-back wins against Carolina would do the trick.

The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. and will air on MSG.

Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Hockey, NHL

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