With 3 1/2 weeks remaining in the season, Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice isn't quite ready to panic with his team out of the playoff picture.
He might not feel the same way, however, if Carolina doesn't beat the Buffalo Sabres.
The Hurricanes look to avoid losing a fifth straight game Tuesday night when they visit the Sabres.
Carolina (31-28-10) is four points back of Buffalo (34-27-8) and the New York Rangers, who are tied for the Eastern Conference's final two playoff spots.
While that might create some concern for Maurice, he's probably more worried about his team just picking up a win.
The Hurricanes haven't posted a victory since beating Buffalo 3-2 on Jamie McBain's overtime goal March 3. Carolina has lost a season-worst four straight since, scoring two goals or fewer each time.
"It's not Game 80," Maurice said after Saturday's 3-2 defeat to Columbus. "There's still time on the clock. We feel the urgency, so everyone understands exactly where we're at."
Carolina had plenty of chances against the Blue Jackets, but its ineffective power play again faltered.
The Hurricanes failed to capitalize on all nine of their power plays, which included four opportunities with a two-man advantage. They have not recorded a power-play goal in the last five games and have three scores on 61 opportunities in the last 15.
"We need to get that positive vibe back on our power play," said captain Eric Staal, who has accounted for two of Carolina's last three power-play goals.
It could be tough for the Hurricanes to do so against Buffalo.
The Sabres denied Carolina on both of its chances with the man advantage at the RBC Center two weeks ago and have killed 15 of 16 power plays in their last four games.
Buffalo is coming off Sunday's emotional 6-4 win over Ottawa, which came just hours after former Sabres great Rick Martin died of hypertensive heart disease.
Martin, 59, was found unresponsive after the car he was driving left the road and struck a utility pole in suburban Buffalo.
Fans were hoping the Sabres could reach seven goals -- a tribute to Martin, whose uniform No. 7 is retired.
"That would have been very nice," center Nathan Gerbe said. "We heard them and wanted to get it. Obviously, just getting the win was huge."
The victory, spurred by rookie Tyler Ennis' two goals, helped Buffalo move into a tie with the Rangers.
Ryan Miller got the night off after stopping 25 shots in Saturday's 4-3 loss to Toronto. Miller has surrendered at least three goals in each of his last five games -- a stretch that started against the Hurricanes -- after allowing two goals or fewer in each of his previous seven.
Miller made 27 saves in the first meeting of the season with the Hurricanes, a 3-2 home win Jan. 13.
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