The Sabres have had a disappointing season so far and are currently sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference -- seven points ahead of Carolina, which is dead last in the East. Buffalo has been hindered by a lack of consistency and has gone 8-12-4 since its last winning streak, a four-game stretch from Nov. 4-11.
Buffalo has also been dogged by injuries to key players like the ones currently plaguing high-priced free agent pickups Ville Leino (broken foot) and Christian Ehrhoff (upper body). Young rising stars Tyler Myers (broken wrist) and Tyler Ennis (ankle) are both out as well, but the Sabres are hoping that Myers can return to action tonight.
Myers, who won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie for 2009-10, has missed the last 19 games with a wrist injury, but the young defenseman will likely be a game-time decision tonight.
"It's as good as it can be. The good thing is I know I can't do any damage to it. I have that piece of mind so I can really bear down on pucks," Myers said after practice on Wednesday. "The little aches and pains, I'm definitely not taking as serious now that I know it's healed. It's just a matter of these next couple of practices getting ready for Friday. Then hopefully by Friday I'm ready to go."
Leino and Ennis are also nearing returns, but they are not expected to play tonight. Leino said he was targeting either Saturday's home game against Winnipeg or Tuesday's road test versus Toronto for his comeback.
The Sabres were able to end a three-game slide in their last trip to the ice, as Drew Stafford scored and added a pair of assists to lead Buffalo to Tuesday's 4-3 regulation win over the visiting Edmonton Oilers.
Nathan Gerbe finished with a goal and an assist, while Jordan Leopold and Jason Pominville also lit the lamp for Buffalo, which was 0-2-1 in its previous three games. Rookie Brayden McNabb added a pair of assists and Ryan Miller made 23 saves in the victory.
"Anytime we win, it's a good feeling," Gerbe said. "We just have to keep the confidence high and keep it rolling."
Beginning tonight, the Sabres will play nine of their next 11 games on the road. Buffalo is 8-8-0 as the visiting team this year and has lost its last five road tests in regulation.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have lost two straight and three of their last four games and were dealt a shootout loss Tuesday by the visiting New York Islanders. That 4-3 setback dropped Carolina into last place in the East, where it sits one point behind the Islanders.
Frans Nielsen scored in the second round of the shootout to help lift the Isles to victory at the RBC Center. Anthony Stewart, Brandon Sutter and Chad LaRose netted goals in regulation for the Hurricanes, who led the game 3-2 after LaRose scored with 4:14 left in the third.
"We got to get that killer instinct when we get that opportunity and we had chances and didn't capitalize and we let them hang around," Carolina head coach Kirk Muller said.
Cam Ward made 33 saves in the loss and allowed Kyle Okposo to score with 1:30 left in regulation to send the game to overtime. Carolina had won three straight on home ice prior to Tuesday's defeat and is 9-10-3 as the host this season.
The Hurricanes have also been playing without some integral pieces, as defenseman Joni Pitkanen (concussion/knee surgery) and speedy forward Jeff Skinner (concussion) are out indefinitely. Forward Patrick Dwyer has also missed the last four games with an upper body injury, but he is questionable for tonight.
Buffalo and the Hurricanes have split the first two of four meetings this season, as both clubs posted a win on the road. Carolina has taken three of five overall in this series, but the Sabres have won three of their last four in Raleigh.