A blizzard prevented the Carolina Hurricanes from visiting the Buffalo Sabres earlier this month. Another snowstorm turned this trip into the second of back-to-back games.
With the expected snow unlikely to pose an obstacle this time, the Hurricanes look to stay on track Thursday night and beat the Sabres for the fourth straight time.
Carolina (21-19-9) was scheduled to face Buffalo on Jan. 7, but a blizzard postponed the matchup until Feb. 25. The Hurricanes dealt with another blast of snow this week, pushing Tuesday’s scheduled game in Philadelphia to Wednesday.
Carolina never trailed while beating the Flyers 3-2 despite mustering only 16 shots through the first two periods – a total the Hurricanes matched in the third alone.
"We weathered the storm and then started playing again and relaxed," coach Kirk Muller said. "I’m really pleased with the way we bounced back in the third."
The shifting schedule, however, could pose a challenge at Buffalo. The Hurricanes are 3-5-3 in the second of back-to-back games and 0-4-2 when that contest is on the road. They have had some success against the Sabres of late, going 7-1-2 in the last 10 meetings, including 3-0-1 in Buffalo.
Nathan Gerbe is returning to Buffalo for the first time since leaving the Sabres via free agency in the offseason. He spent his first five seasons with them after being drafted in the fifth round in 2005.
Gerbe scored for the first time in 10 games Wednesday, using a between-the-legs trick shot on a breakaway.
"It’s something I always try in practice," he said. "Just right when I picked the puck up I felt like I had the gap and the speed to do it, and fortunately it went in. I wanted to show I was going to my back hand and tried to pull it through my legs as quick as I can and go far side."
Alexander Semin also found the net against the Flyers, giving him four goals in three games. The right wing has three goals and four assists in his last five against Buffalo, including the eventual winning tally and two assists in a 4-3 home victory March 5.
The Sabres are becoming familiar with that result after dropping four straight (0-2-2) games by 4-3 scores, including three at home. It happened again versus visiting Florida on Tuesday, leaving the Sabres in desperate need of re-establishing themselves defensively.
Prior to their 0-2-2 stretch as host, they allowed just 10 goals during a 6-0-1 run.
"We can’t find a way to play a full 60 minutes, to play a consistent effort on both sides of the puck," defenseman Mike Weber told the team’s official website. "Pucks weren’t going in and now pucks are going in, but we can’t keep them out. It’s just a difficult time we’re trying to work through."
Ryan Miller, who made 18 saves Tuesday, has slumped a bit in net lately, losing three straight starts with a 3.21 goals-against average after going 7-2-1 with a 1.64 GAA over the previous 10 games.
Miller, who is making a case to be the United States’ top goaltender at next month’s Olympics, is 1-5-1 with a 2.73 GAA over his last seven against the Hurricanes.
Drew Stafford has three goals in two games after totaling four through his first 42. The right wing scored twice against the Panthers before assisting on Steve Ott’s power-play tally. Stafford, though, has failed to get a point in his last six versus Carolina.