Sabres vs. Hurricanes Preview

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - While being introduced as the Buffalo Sabres' new owner last month, Pennsylvania billionaire and lifelong Sabres fan Terry Pegula announced that the team's "reason for existence will be to win a Stanley Cup."

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The Sabres have a ways to go to reach that goal, but they're heading in the right direction.

Buffalo will try to win five straight road games for the first time since 2006 and tie the Carolina Hurricanes for eighth place in the Eastern Conference when these clubs face off for the first of three matchups over the final six weeks of the season Thursday night.

According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made the Hurricanes -125 money line favorites for Thursday's game against the Sabres. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 65% of more than 98 bets for this game have been placed on the Hurricanes -125.

After the NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved his $189 million purchase of the Sabres from B. Thomas Golisano, Pegula made no doubt about his desire to win a Stanley Cup.

"Starting today, there will be no financial mandates on the Buffalo Sabres hockey department," Pegula said during his Feb. 22 introduction.

The team's first major personnel move since Pegula took charge paid immediate dividends as Brad Boyes scored a power-play goal in his Sabres debut, a 3-2 road victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. The seventh-year forward was acquired from St. Louis on Sunday for a second-round pick.

"I wasn't too (nervous)," Boyes said after Buffalo opened its season-high seven-game trip. "Once I got out there I felt fairly comfortable."

Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller has looked comfortable since the ownership change, posting a 1.72 goals-against average during Buffalo's 3-0-1 stretch. He lost his previous four starts.

"I think anything can rub off, especially when it's good, positive energy," Miller told the Sabres' official website. "(Pegula) believes in Buffalo and we have good talented players. There's no reason we can't be a team that competes for the Stanley Cup. But first thing's first - we have to get into playoff position."

Buffalo (30-25-7), which has lost once in regulation in its last 11 games in Raleigh, can tie Carolina (30-25-9) for the final playoff spot in the East with a victory.

A win would also give the Sabres five straight on the road for the first time since a franchise record-tying 10-game run to open 2006-07.

The Hurricanes, one point back of the seventh-place Rangers, look to win two in a row for the first time since Jan. 24-26.

In his third game since being acquired from Florida, Cory Stillman had a goal and an assist against his former team in Tuesday's 2-1 victory. Stillman has two goals and three points since the deal.

The return of captain Eric Staal could also help the Hurricanes make a late-season push. After missing Saturday's 4-3 loss at Montreal with an upper-body injury, Staal scored on the power play Tuesday.

"It took a little bit to get my legs into it early, but for the most part I felt pretty good," Staal said. "We're going to look forward to Thursday against Buffalo."

The Sabres, 2 for 22 with the man advantage in their previous nine contests prior to Boyes and Tyler Myers converting Tuesday, went 1 for 2 on the power play against Carolina's Cam Ward in a 3-2 home win Jan. 13.

These teams meet March 15 in Buffalo and April 3 in Raleigh.

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