Carolina Hurricanes (31-28-10) at Buffalo Sabres (34-27-8)
HSBC Arena, 7:30 p.m. ET (Versus)
SERIES: Carolina (9th in East) 1-1-0; Buffalo (7th in East) 1-0-1
IMPLICATIONS: Carolina can move to within fourth place with a victory combined with a New York Rangers loss. (The Rangers host the New York Islanders tonight.) Buffalo won’t fall out of the top-8 no matter what happens tonight, but would slip to eighth with a loss coupled with a Rangers win.
BREAKDOWN: The Sabres have netted points in each of their last four home games, but these are a couple crucial points up for grabs since the ‘Canes are one of a handful of teams with a shot for the final two playoff slots in the Eastern Conference. Counting tonight’s contest, the Sabres have 13 games with four of those against teams that enter 8th-10th in the standings (Carolina, 2 games, Rangers and Toronto).
The Hurricanes, winless in their last four outings, are seeking their first road win since Feb. 13 and Carolina might not be able to count on their power play. Carolina hasn’t scored on their last 21 opportunities on the power play, a span of five games. The Sabres, meanwhile, have allowed just one goal over their last 16 penalty kill opportunities.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Carolina F Jeff Skinner vs. Buffalo F Tyler Ennis. This is another chance to see a couple leading contenders for the Calder Trophy go head to head. Skinner scored his 24th goal of the season over the weekend, but it was only his second tally over the last 10 games as his production has slowed since he was featured attraction at the All-Star game in Raleigh. Skinner, however, still leads all rookies in scoring with 50 points. Ennis enters on a three-game point streak and is coming off a two-goal effort against Ottawa on Sunday.
KEY STAT: 126. The number of goals the Sabres are on pace to score over the second half of the season, which would be a 22-goal improvement over the first 41 games.