The Sabres have their first game this season against Carolina

Jack Eichel will return from an upper-body injury

Paul Hamilton
January 11, 2019 - 2:36 pm

Photo: Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports

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Raleigh, NC (WGR 550) - Jeff Skinner will celebrate his selection for the All-Star Game by welcoming another All-Star back to the lineup. Jack Eichel missed three games and the Sabres won two of the three games. To make room for Eichel, C.J. Smith was sent back to Rochester.

Skinner makes his first visit back to Carolina since being traded to the Sabres for Cliff Pu and three draft picks.

Skinner has 29 goals in his first 43 games in Buffalo, while Pu is just beginning his pro career. The 20-year-old is playing in the AHL with Charlotte and has one goal and three assists for four points in 32 games.

The Sabres are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games in Raleigh. Carter Hutton is back in net after stopping 21 of 22 pucks in a 5-1 win over New Jersey.

Tage Thompson is going to get an opportunity to play right wing with Eichel and Skinner. Thompson has five goals and four assists for nine points in 36 games, but he seems to be improving almost every night since the holidays started.

Buffalo holds down fourth place in the Atlantic Division and is tied with the Islanders for the two Eastern Conference Wild Card spots. The Sabres lead Montreal by one point, they trail Columbus by one point, Boston and Pittsburgh by two points and Toronto and Washington by six points.

In the overall standings, the Sabres are 13th with a points percentage of .605.

Buffalo is 19th in the NHL in goal scoring, averaging 2.84 goals per-game. On the other side, Carolina is 28th with 2.60 goals per-game.

The Hurricanes had their five-game winning streak broken Thursday in Tampa. In those five games, Carolina did score 21 goals.

Former Red Wings and Flyers goalie Petr Mrazek has not put up good numbers in goal, but the Canes claimed Curtis McElhinney off waivers from the Leafs and all he’s done is go 10-5-1 with a 2.25 goals-against and .922 saves percentage.

Carolina’s leading scorer, by far, is Sebastian Aho, who has 16 goals and 29 assists for 45 points in 43 games.

Captain Justin Williams and defenseman Dougie Hamilton have points in five consecutive games.

Jordan Staal has missed nine games with an upper-body injury.

The Hurricanes have won six straight games against the Sabres.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for the pre-game starting at 6:30 when they’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Jeff Skinner and Jack Eichel.

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