Defenseman Brett Pesce did not participate Friday in the Carolina Hurricanes’ morning skate but is expected to play against the Buffalo Sabres.
Canes coach Bill Peters said Pesce felt a “little wonky” and did not come to PNC Arena. He said Pesce would be a gametime decision Friday night.
Asked if Pesce was sick or injured, Peters said, “I’m not sure what it was. The decision was made to leave him at home this morning, so we did.”
Peters said he thought Pesce would play, but D-men Ryan Murphy and Klas Dahlbeck are available.
Other than Pesce, those not at the optional skate Friday included goalie Cam Ward, forwards Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal, and defensemen Ron Hainsey and Justin Faulk.
The lines are expected to remain the same from the 5-3 win Tuesday over Columbus: Victor Rask centering Skinner and Derek Ryan; Staal with Brock McGinn and Elias Lindholm; Teuvo Teravainen centering Sebastian Aho and Lee Stempniak, and Jay McClement with Viktor Stalberg and Joakim Nordstrom.
The defensive pairs are expected to be Hainsey-Faulk, Jaccob Slavin-Pesce and Noah Hanifin-Matt Tennyson.
— Ward will be playing his 600th career game in net, all for the Hurricanes, as he makes his 18th consecutive start of the season.
The career numbers on Ward: 285-220-74 overall, with a goals-against average of 2.67 and 25 shutouts. He’s 16-12-6 this season with a 2.31 GAA and two shutouts.
— The Sabres (16-16-9),who did not have a morning skate, are finishing up a back-to-back set after a 4-2 road loss Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Matt Moulson and Evander Kane scored for the Sabres against goalie Ben Bishop, who has been out with an injury and made his first start for the Lightning since Dec. 20.
The Sabres won their previous two games, both at home, beating Winnipeg 4-3 and then the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. The Sabres, 10th in the NHL on the power play (21.6 percent), are 30th in penalty killing (73.4), giving up a pair of power-play goals in the loss to Tampa Bay.
Peters’ assessment of the Sabres: “Dangerous obviously. They load three lines up when they choose to do that and they’ve got a lot of talent. And their power play has been good.”
The Canes won the first two games with the Sabres this season — 2-1 at PNC Arena on Dec. 17 and 3-1 at Buffalo five days later.
— Ryan Murphy could laugh about it Friday, a day after the prank. But not so much Thursday.
Murphy left practice Thursday at PNC Arena and said he initially chuckled when he got to the players’ parking area. Hanifin’s car, he said, was covered with pylons.
“I started giving it to Hanifin and calling him a rookie,” Murphy said. “Then I noticed everyone was still hanging around. I knew something was going on.”
Murphy then saw that the inside of his car was completely filled with styrofoam packing peanuts. “I thought it was popcorn at first,” he said.
Why Murphy? “I couldn’t tell you,” he said, smiling. “I have pretty open personality, I guess.”
Murphy’s one regret was that he used a few curse words when he saw his car, which he said was a bit embarrassing. It was all was caught on video, which quickly went viral on social media. Even NHL.com picked it up and tweeted it.
“I’ve got to figure some way to get somebody back,” Murphy said Friday. “It was a good one. I’m going to figure out something to do.”
The tipoff, he said, was that the video was shot with a GoPro. “I’ve got a good idea who the ringleader was,” he said.