NHL Hockey

Hurricanes-Sabres Preview

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Things have been starting to look better for the Buffalo Sabres as of late, but they had another reminder on Thursday night that they still have a long way to go.

They will look to bounce back in a Friday night home game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

After a dreadful month of November -- the Sabres had a stretch where they lost 11 of 12 games -- Buffalo began to show some improvement on the ice, picking up points in four straight games (2-0-2). Buffalo's last home effort was a 3-2 win over the struggling Ottawa Senators.

But the Sabres (8-18-6) had another wake-up call on Thursday night in a disappointing 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a game that was certainly there for the taking, with plenty of missed opportunities in the offensive end.

"We created a lot, we had a lot of attempts," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "We got away from that in the second and that was the difference. It wasn't a matter of us not getting the chances, we had some great looks. We had open nets. We didn't finish. And that's part of the execution.

"It's unfortunate because we had built something here in the last four games and I thought we could have taken another step but we didn't execute."

Buffalo will look to get back to doing what it did best in the previous four games -- sound defensive play, strong goaltending from Robin Lehner and more chances in the offensive zone. Scoring has been an issue for the Sabres all season long, but they scored three goals on three separate occasions during the four-game point streak -- a major improvement from most games this season.

"I think we're sticking to our gameplan a little bit more," Sabres forward Kyle Okposo said prior to the Philadelphia loss. "We're starting to make a few plays, starting to execute a little bit. You can't take any of that for granted. You just have to keep working every day and keep putting the time in, keep putting the effort in, keep preparing the same way and trust that we're going to continue to execute and continue to get some wins here."

The Hurricanes (12-11-7) are in better spirits after snapping a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. That performance ended up being a milestone win for the franchise, with goaltender Cam Ward picking up his 300th career win. Ward was a key member of Carolina's Stanley Cup winning team in 2006, which defeated the Sabres in the Eastern Conference finals.

"It feels real good," Ward told the team's website. "It's something I've been striving for a while, and I'm very fortunate to get it. I thought the guys put forth a great effort, especially coming in in a back-to-back situation."

"It's kind of weird how it all comes in a circle. I'm really thankful for the opportunities I've been given throughout my entire career, to be able to stay in the same organization for 13 years and get those 300 wins."

Teuvo Teravainen leads the Hurricanes in scoring with 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists). Jeff Skinner and Sebastian Aho have 21 points apiece.

Updated December 15, 2017

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