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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 24th (All times Eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (2-0-0) at Carolina Hurricanes (0-2-0), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will aim for a 3-0 start to the shortened season when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Buffalo began the year on Sunday with a 5-2 home win over Philadelphia and then posted a thrilling victory the following night in Toronto. The Sabres withstood 35 shots from the Maple Leafs and held on for a 2-1 win at Air Canada Centre.
Ryan Miller came just 1:42 away from a shutout and posted 34 saves for the victory. Cody Hodgson and Jason Pominville each lit the net for Buffalo, which won despite only mustering 20 shots on net.
"We needed to start strong tonight and that's what we got," said Miller. "I haven't had a whole lot of luck here in this building so it was nice to get the win tonight."
The Sabres haven't won three in a row to begin a season since going 4-0 in 2008-09.
Buffalo has played the first two games of the season without forward Ville Leino, who is questionable for Thursday's tilt with a lower-body injury. Leino had a disappointing first season with the Sabres in 2011-12, posting just 25 points in 71 games after signing a six-year, $27 million with the Sabres.
While Buffalo has begun the season with two straight wins, the Hurricanes will try to get their first victory on Thursday.
The opening two contests have been a disaster for Carolina, as the club has been outscored by Florida and Tampa Bay by a combined 9-2 margin.
The latest setback came in Tuesday's 4-1 home loss to the Lightning, which took control of the game with first-period goals from Tom Pyatt and Cory Conacher.
Jeff Skinner provided the lone offense for the Hurricanes, while Cam Ward allowed all four scores on 26 shots in defeat.
"We were a better team tonight than we were the other night," said Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller. "But we're 0-2 to start the year and we need to be tougher in the defensive end and more productive on offense."
Carolina began the season 0-2-1 in 2011-12 en route to its third straight year out of the playoffs.
Buffalo has won three of the last five games in this series and Carolina has dropped four of its previous seven home tests against the Sabres.
These teams will complete the home-and-home Friday night in Buffalo.
01/24 10:51:43 ET