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After watching backup goaltender Jhonas Enroth fail to stop the previously winless Carolina Hurricanes, the Buffalo Sabres are hoping Ryan Miller has some better luck.
Miller will seek to continue his strong start when the Sabres wrap up their home-and-home series with the Hurricanes on Friday night in Buffalo.
Enroth was charged with five goals in his first start this season, a 6-3 loss Thursday that was Buffalo's first defeat of 2012-13. He gave up four of those in the second period. Jason Pominville's second score of the game got the Sabres to within a goal before Eric Staal completed his 13th career hat trick.
"I think we gave up the puck too much," said Pominville, whose team was denied its first 3-0-0 start since 2008-09. "We battled back a couple of times (but) we gave up too many rush opportunities and were a little too casual with the puck. It just wasn't our usual game."
Staal's first points of 2012-13 helped Carolina (1-2-0) avoid dropping its first three games for the second straight season. Jeff Skinner also scored twice for the Hurricanes, who had been outscored 9-2 in their first two games.
"(We've) got to be tougher, I think, around their net and today we beared down a little bit more," said Skinner, whose team is among the league leaders with 38.7 shots per game. "You stick with it. You keep putting that many pucks on the net, you're going to get a bounce here or there, and one's going to go in for you."
Carolina would appear to have a more difficult task building on that first win as Miller is expected to be in the Buffalo net Friday. The former Vezina Trophy winner has allowed three goals on 64 shots in his first two games and gave up two in his most recent matchup with the Hurricanes, a 3-2 overtime win at home March 7.
Miller is 7-4-0 with a 1.94 goals-against average in his last 11 home games against Carolina.
The Sabres have alternated wins and losses in their last six contests against the Hurricanes and have split the past six home matchups. Pominville scored the winning goal in the overtime victory in March.
The Sabres winger, who has seven points in the first three games, has a four-game goal scoring streak against the Hurricanes and has assisted on two others over that span. Thomas Vanek, owner of a team-best eight points, had five last season versus Carolina to tie Pominville for the team lead.
The Hurricanes could turn to Dan Ellis to slow down those two Sabres. Ellis turned away 12 of 13 shots in relief of Cam Ward in Saturday's season opener and his Hurricanes debut, a 5-1 loss in Florida. He has faced Buffalo only once, allowing three goals on 14 shots as a substitute in an 8-4 road loss for Nashville on Feb. 27, 2008.
If he starts, Ellis will try to get some help from Staal, who has nine goals and eight assists in his last 16 matchups. His brother, Jordan Staal, has three goals and four assists during a six-game point streak against Buffalo.