Sabres-Hurricanes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 23, 2013

ATLANTA - JANUARY 14: Goaltender Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on January 14, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres are hoping a solid start by goalie Ryan Miller is a sign of good things to come. That's not so good for the Carolina Hurricanes, who have struggled to score coming out of the nine-month layoff. The visiting Sabres seek their best start in four seasons and look to hand the Hurricanes their worst in 15 years Thursday night in the opener of a home-and-home series. While Buffalo (2-0-0) aims to open with three straight wins for the first time since the 2008-09 season, Carolina (0-2-0) looks to avoid its first three-game start without a point since 1997-98. That may be a difficult task against Miller, who will try to stay hot after stopping 34 shots in a 2-1 victory at Toronto on Monday. "He is a very good goalie, one of the top goalies in the league for a reason," Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. While it's only been two games, Miller carries a 1.50 goals-against average into his matchup with the Hurricanes. The only time in Miller's nine previous seasons when he finished with a GAA under 2.50, he won the Vezina Trophy and led Buffalo to the Northeast Division title in 2009-10. Miller, though, has lost seven of nine career starts in Raleigh, posting a 3.14 GAA. He allowed nine goals in three meetings with the Hurricanes last season, losing two. Things could be different this time as he faces a Carolina team that has scored the fewest goals in the NHL. The Hurricanes followed a season-opening 5-1 defeat at Florida with a 4-1 home loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday. "There's no panic, but we've definitely got to find a way to work harder and find a way to win games," captain Eric Staal said. Patrick Dwyer and Jeff Skinner have scored the team's two goals. Skinner has Carolina's only goal in 11 power-play opportunities. The Sabres scored three power-play goals in a 5-2 win over Philadelphia on Sunday but had none a day later in Toronto. They were outshot 35-20 on Monday, but Cody Hodgson scored for the second straight game and Jason Pominville notched his first goal. "We were just able to pull it out," Hodgson said. "It wasn't the prettiest, but we'll take it." Thomas Vanek and Pominville are off to fast starts with six and five points, respectively. Each had three goals and two assists in last season's series with Carolina as the teams split four games. Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward is 4-0-2 with 1.98 GAA in his last six against the Sabres but enters this matchup struggling. He's allowed eight goals on 38 shots for one of the league's worst GAAs (6.00). Buffalo has gone 4-1-2 in its last seven trips to Carolina, but that regulation loss came in its most recent visit, 4-2 last Jan. 6. These teams meet again Friday in Buffalo.
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