NHL on NBCSN: Hurricanes, Sabres seek first win of 2014-15

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Carolina Hurricanes host the Buffalo Sabres at PNC Arena at 7 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

To put things mildly, things haven’t been going well for the Carolina Hurricanes (0-2-0) or the Buffalo Sabres (0-3-0) so far this season. It’s safe to say that Tuesday’s game will elicit more than a few references to Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and the 2015 NHL Draft in general.

Despite the “tanking” talk that might arise on social media, the bottom line is that both teams should be motivated to grab that elusive first win of 2014-15.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $8,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $800. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Hurricanes will come into tonight’s game limping, as they’re essentially running out of Staal brothers thanks to some really bad injury luck. With Eric Staal and Jordan Staal on the sidelines and Jeff Skinner dealing with another worrisome concussion, Carolina fans must wonder if luck will come this team’s way.

Tonight’s matchup may represent a smidgen of luck, as fatigue is likely to weigh against the Sabres after Monday’s ugly 5-1 loss against the Anaheim Ducks. On paper, this seems like a great opportunity for a Hurricanes team that fell to the New York Islanders by one goal in each of their first losses; Buffalo’s -10 goal differential is easily the worst in this young season, and it’s not as if goaltending is the main cause of the Sabres’ woes.

That said, the Sabres are playing for pride as much as they’re shooting for their first victory. When your coach deems your efforts to be at a youth hockey level, you know that there’s a lot of room for improvement.

“We need to go into Carolina and win,” Tyler Ennis told the Buffalo News. “We need to be mad. We need to get angry. We need to play really hard, and we’re going to.”

Some bright lights for each team

The Sabres already possess some of the promising young pieces they’ll need to dig out of this hole.

Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons are the Sabres’ only players who’ve scored goals so far this season, with two apiece. Girgensons and Cody Hodgson (off to a slow start with zero points) are among the players expected to help turn things around.

Drew Stafford is also off to a nice start with three assists in as many games.

The Hurricanes are banged up, but Jiri Tlusty comes into Tuesday’s game on a hot streak after generating the second hat trick of his NHL career on Saturday. Alexander Semin could be another player to watch with two assists so far.

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These two teams are hurting right now, but one will finally get in the “win” column after tonight’s contest.