Sabres return home to clash with Hurricanes

After a successful season-opening trip to Europe, the Sabres will play their first game of the year in Buffalo when they welcome the Carolina Hurricanes for tonight's clash at First Niagara Center.

The Sabres were one of four NHL teams to start their seasons with two games in Europe and Buffalo was the only club to win both contests. The Sabres posted a 4-1 win over Anaheim in Helsinki, Finland last Friday and downed Los Angeles by a 4-2 score the following day in Berlin, Germany.

Thomas Vanek led Buffalo on offense during the European trip, notching five points on two goals and three assists.

Luke Adam also scored twice early in the second period of Buffalo's victory over Los Angeles and the rookie has four points (2 goals, 2 assists) on the season. Adam is centering Buffalo's top line with Vanek and Jason Pominville, who also has four points on one goal and three assists.

"Van and Pommer are both great players, and for myself to be given the opportunity to play with those two guys makes the game a lot easier for me," Adam recently told the Sabres' official website. "We've been having some success, but it's early in the season and we can't forget that."

Paul Gaustad and Drew Stafford also scored for the Sabres in Saturday's win. and Ryan Miller made 31 saves. Miller has stopped 60-of-63 shots sent his way over Buffalo's two games and the American is 11-5-4 with a 2.61 goals-against average in 20 career outings against Carolina.

The Sabres hope to have Jochen Hecht back soon, as the forward missed the first two games, including one in his home country of Germany, to start the season. Hecht suffered a concussion in training camp, but he has resumed practice and is getting closer to a return.

"I don't think there's any reason to rule him out right now. I don't think there���s a good enough reason to say he could play Friday yet either," Ruff said when asked about Hecht's status earlier this week.

The Sabres were 21-16-4 on home ice during the 2010-11 season.

The Hurricanes finally earned a win in their fourth game of the season Wednesday, notching a close regulation victory over visiting Boston. Anthony Stewart and Jiri Tlusty both scored third-period goals, as Carolina downed the defending Stanley Cup champions, 3-2, at RBC Center.

Joni Pitkanen added a goal for the Hurricanes, who got 26 saves from Cam Ward.

"It was the fourth game of the year, but we did treat it as a must win," said Ward.

Carolina is kicking off a four-game road trip tonight and is 0-1-1 so far as the guest this season. The Hurricanes will also visit Boston, St. Louis and Winnipeg during the swing.

Buffalo and the Hurricanes split four meetings in 2010-11 and the Sabres have taken five of nine overall. Carolina has won two of three and three of its last five in Buffalo, but the Sabres have still claimed seven of the last nine encounters in western New York.