BY: DAVID KOLB
CAROLINA HURRICANES (13-11-7) @ BUFFALO SABRES (12-11-8)
TWO IN A WEEK
Tonight the Sabres host the Carolina Hurricanes at KeyBank Center, as the two clubs face off for the second time in a week. The Sabres look to get back into the win column tonight after falling to the Hurricanes 2-1 in a shootout Saturday and then dropped a tight 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers Tuesday.
Rasmus Ristolainen continues his ascend to elite-defenseman status, as he scored a goal and registered a power play assist in Tuesday’s loss to the Panthers. Ristolainen notched multi-point games twice in the past three contests and has three goals and nine assists for 12 points in nine games in December. Through 31 games this season the 22-year-old stud from Turku, Finland has three goals and 20 assists for 23 points.
WARD BETWEEN THE PIPES
The Sabres will look to fire pucks past Carolina goalie Cam Ward, who gets the start tonight for the Hurricanes. Ward was excellent, only allowing one goal against the Sabres last Saturday, and enters tonight’s contest with a 10-8-6 record with a 2.30 goals against average and a .915 save percentage.
KANE STAYS HOT
Tuesday against the Florida Panthers, Evander Kane scored to extend his point streak to four games and gives him three goals during that stretch. Kane, who got out of the gate slowly this season, has picked things up in a big way, scoring six goals with two assists for eight points in nine games this month.
Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner is having a career-year and is on pace to eclipse his best season statistically (63 points in 2010-11), as he has tallied 12 goals with 14 assists for 26 points. Skinner was kept off the board Saturday by the Sabres, however, will have to be watched closely tonight, as he enters tonight’s game with three goals and two assists in his past four games.