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The Buffalo Sabres have had some trouble scoring after ranking among the NHL's leaders last season. Perhaps a matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes can give them a boost.
Coming off one of their better offensive games of the season, the Sabres look to continue their home dominance of the Hurricanes when the teams meet for the first time this season Saturday night.
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Buffalo (22-17-5) was fourth in the league in scoring in 2007-08, averaging 3.06 goals per game, but is posting 2.75 this season - 2.65 at home.
After being held to one goal in each of their previous two games - both losses - the Sabres rallied from a three-goal deficit against Dallas on Thursday night and won 5-4 when Jason Pominville scored in the sixth round of a shootout.
It was the finale of a three-game road trip for Buffalo, which will play six straight away from home following this contest with Carolina (21-19-5). Facing the Hurricanes at HSBC Arena may give the Sabres a chance to build some momentum on offense.
Buffalo has won four straight at home against Carolina since a 4-3 loss on March 22, 2006, scoring 15 goals in the last two games and outscoring the Hurricanes 19-3 in the last three. The Sabres went 2-1-1 in last season's series, winning the finale 7-1 at home on March 14.
Carolina doesn't seem in any position to put up much resistance, having allowed 20 goals in losing a season-high four straight. It allowed more than five goals in regulation for the first time this season in Thursday night's 6-4 home defeat to Toronto.
The Hurricanes, who had won four straight games before this skid, are in danger of losing five in a row for the first time since Dec. 5-15, 2006.
"We need to win. We need to stay in the hunt," center Eric Staal said.
Ward is 2-3-1 with a 4.13 goals-against average in six games versus Buffalo, so Carolina may consider giving Michael Leighton a start.
Whoever is in net for Carolina will face a Buffalo team that finally showed some fire late against the Stars. The Sabres played poorly in a 4-1 loss in Chicago on Wednesday night and fell into a 3-0 hole in the second period against Dallas before coming back.
Paul Gaustad had two goals for the Sabres, giving him four points in eight games since returning from an upper-body injury.
Carolina had a comeback attempt fall short against the Maple Leafs. After falling behind 4-0 late in the second period, the Hurricanes scored four goals in 10 minutes to tie it midway through the third.
Matt Cullen, Tuomo Ruutu, Eric Staal and Scott Walker scored in Carolina's desperate rally. Walker's goal was his first since Nov. 12 against Washington.