At one end, the Carolina Hurricanes are established as perennial contenders. At the other, the Buffalo Sabres are trying to build toward that.
Both teams find themselves struggling of late and look to get back on track when the Hurricanes host the Sabres on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.
The Hurricanes lost their third straight game on Thursday, falling 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, as Carolina peppered Senators goalie Anton Forsberg with 49 shots. The Canes have been outscored 11-5 in their past three games.
“The guys played hard,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I don’t really have much to say. It kind of felt like this (during) the last two-week stretch. We’re playing as good hockey as we can play. (Thursday) we did everything right, but we didn’t get the win.”
The Hurricanes showed off their dominance in a 14-2-0 run through the first 16 games, scoring at least three goals in 11 of those contests. They’re 1-4-1 in their six games since, scoring only seven goals in the losses (regulation and overtime).
“It’s a tough time mentally right now because nothing is going our way,” Brind’Amour said. “Let’s just be frank, nothing is going our way. No one is going to feel sorry for us and we’re not asking for that. The key is just to stay positive, there’s no point in being sorry for yourself, we just have to keep working and to me, things are going to work out.”
The Sabres head into Saturday’s tilt coming off a 7-4 loss for the second straight game. On Thursday, Buffalo held a 4-1 lead against the Panthers that slipped away.
It was the third time in the past six games the Sabres have lost by a 7-4 final. They’ve allowed at least five goals in 10 of their past 15 games.
“A lot of it is self-inflicted,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “We have pucks on our stick and we’re not executing, and it ends up back in our zone. And that is, it’s not as systematic as it may be just guys playing through it. So, you just got to keep on it. The guys have to keep improving and work on improving. …
“I think our guys are comfortable with our system so you can’t break, you can’t lose confidence. You’ve just got to keep pushing through and I say it all the time, I know it’s a broken record, but we’ve got to keep getting better.”
Goalie Malcolm Subban, acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, could get the start. Aaron Dell, in goal against the Panthers, has lost each of his five starts this season, allowing at least four goals in each of those outings.
Dustin Tokarski was placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Thursday.
“All the reports I’ve heard, I’m excited about him,” Granato said of Subban. “I don’t know him, I’ve never coached him, but the reports are great. There’s an enthusiasm just within our room and our staff because of him. So I’m looking forward to it.”
–Field Level Media