While the Carolina Hurricanes have climbed to the top of the Southeast Division, staying there could prove difficult with their starting goalie sidelined.
The Hurricanes try to overcome Cam Ward's absence as they go for a season-best fourth consecutive win and three-game season sweep of the visiting Buffalo Sabres, who are hoping to have Thomas Vanek available Tuesday night.
Carolina (12-8-1) completed a home-and-home sweep of Florida with Sunday's 3-2 road win. That result, though, came at a steep cost for the Hurricanes, who saw Ward leave in the second period with a sprained knee.
Ward doesn't need surgery and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. He had gone 8-3-1 with a 2.38 goals-against average since the start of February.
"It kind of (stinks) to lose such a good goaltender, such a big piece to our team, and such a good person," said backup Dan Ellis, who has posted a 0.67 GAA in three wins and 6.68 GAA in two losses while starting five games.
The Hurricanes rank as on...