Sunday, 04.3.2011 / 12:01 PM ET
As late season matchups go, today’s tilt between the Sabres and Hurricanes should be a good one given what’s at stake. Buffalo enters the day in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, and leads the eighth place Rangers by one point and ninth place Carolina by two points.
With all three teams in action today, and the Sabres and ‘Canes going head to head, the race for the final two playoff spots will get even more interesting.
The Rangers play early as they take on the Flyers in Philadelphia at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Buffalo and Carolina renew the rivalry at 5 p.m. ET in Raleigh. Both teams have played well of late, with the Sabres going 12-4-4 in their last 20 games and the Hurricanes winning seven of their last 10. The season series between the clubs has been extremely close, with each of the first three meetings being decided by one goal. That includes a 3-2 overtime win by Carolina on March 3 and a 1-0 ‘Canes victory in Buffalo on March 15. The Sabres won the first meeting of the season by a 3-2 score back on Jan. 13.
Both teams played Saturday night, with the Hurricanes defeating the Islanders 4-2 on the road while Buffalo fell in overtime to Washington. The Sabres will be completing their 21st set of back-to-back games on the season; the Hurricanes, their 20th set. Following today’s game, each team will have three games remaining. Buffalo plays vs. Tampa Bay (Apr. 5), vs. Philadelphia (Apr. 8) and at Columbus (Apr. 9). The Hurricanes will close out the season by playing Detroit (Apr. 6), at Atlanta (Apr. 8) and vs. Tampa Bay (Apr. 9).
The Sabres will look to bounce back from last night’s loss the same way they have for the last month-and-a-half. The team has not lost consecutive games since Feb. 18-20.
Congratulations to Thomas Vanek, who scored his 200th career goal in last night’s game, making him just the 11th player in franchise history to reach the 200-goal milestone. He is now just 11 goals behind Alexander Mogilny for 10th place on the Sabres’ all-time list. Here’s a look at Vanek’s 200th goal: