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Predators at Sabres preview

Nashville defenseman Ekholm expected to play 500th NHL game; Sabres center Eichel eyes point in 15 straight

by Heather Engel / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

PREDATORS (14-10-5) at SABRES (15-11-6)

7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-TN, NHL.TV

 

The Game

Jack Eichel can match the longest point streak in the NHL this season when the Buffalo Sabres play the Nashville Predators at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

The center has 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in a 14-game run, one shy of Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane's 15 (11 goals, 13 assists) from Nov. 2-30. It's the longest point streak by a Sabres player since Tim Connolly had points in 16 straight from Dec. 23, 2009 to Jan. 25, 2010.

Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin could return after missing eight games with a concussion.

The Predators have won two in a row and are 5-1-2 in their past eight games after a six-game winless streak (0-5-1). Defenseman Mattias Ekholm is expected to play in his 500th NHL game.

 

Players to watch

Predators center Ryan Johansen has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in a 10-game point streak against Buffalo.

Sabres center Johan Larsson has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his past seven games.

 

They said it

"I think the past five or six games we've been playing a lot better. We obviously were in a spot where we didn't want to be. We weren't happy with the way we were playing. I think the last couple of games we've played a lot better and have got some wins, but we're still not where we want to be. So we've got to keep it going." -- Predators defenseman Roman Josi

"It's always tough to make these calls, and that's part of our job as coaches to make tough calls and to not reach for popularity but for what's right for the team at the moment. This process that we're going through with different D sitting out who have experience and have miles and have even possibly had a good game is not an easy one, but it's part of the internal competition that we spoke about in training camp that we want to keep alive." -- Sabres coach Ralph Krueger on having eight defensemen

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Calle Jarnkrok

Kyle Turris -- Matt Duchene -- Mikael Granlund

Rocco Grimaldi -- Nick Bonino -- Craig Smith

Daniel Carr -- Colton Sissons -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- Dante Fabbro

Dan Hamhuis -- Yannick Weber

Juuse Saros

Pekka Rinne

Scratched: Matt Irwin, Yakov Trenin

Injured: Viktor Arvidsson (lower body)

 

Sabres projected lineup

Victor Olofsson -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner -- Evan Rodrigues

Jimmy Vesey -- Marcus Johansson -- Rasmus Asplund

Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Kyle Okposo

Jake McCabe -- Henri Jokiharju

Rasmus Dahlin -- Colin Miller

Brandon Montour -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Marco Scandella

Linus Ullmark

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Casey Mittelstadt, Conor Sheary, Zach Bogosian

Injured: Tage Thompson (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body)

 

Status report

The Sabres could go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen … Sheary and Mittelstadt skated with the scratches. … Krueger said they will have 12 forwards and seven defensemen on the ice for warmup. 

 

Stat pack

Reinhart's next goal will be the 100th of his NHL career. … Vesey is one point away from 100 in the NHL. … Granlund needs two goals to reach 100.

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