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Predators shift struggling Spaling back to left wing

by John Manasso

NASHVILLE -- One game after Nashville Predators versatile two-way forward Nick Spaling uncharacteristically went minus-3 playing the right wing, coach Barry Trotz changed up his lines Thursday ahead of his team's game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Spaling can play all three forward positions but is a left-handed shot. He had been playing right wing on the third line, centered by Colin Wilson with Eric Nystrom on the left. In a 5-4 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the line was a combined minus-7. Spaling's minus-2 rating ranks fourth-best on the Predators among players who have played at least 15 games.

Trotz dropped Nystrom to the fourth line, which is centered by rookie Colton Sissons and features Rich Clune on the right, and elevated right wing Viktor Stalberg to Wilson's line so Spaling could move back to the left side.

"I think [Spaling] also, he's had a little bit of a harder time on the right side as of late," Trotz said. "So we'll put him on the left. Things come a little easier for him."

Trotz said none of the Predators' three injured players, defenseman Seth Jones (concussion-like symptoms), center Paul Gaustad (upper-body injury) and forward Patrick Eaves (upper-body injury), will travel for their road game Friday against the Dallas Stars.

With back-to-back games Thursday and Friday, Trotz said back-up goalie Carter Hutton will start Thursday.

The Sabres recalled defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, the eighth pick at the 2013 NHL Draft, and right wing Johan Larsson on an emergency basis from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

Both players played on Wednesday in the Americans' 3-1 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals and then were on a 6 a.m. flight from Rochester that made a layover in Chicago before arriving in Nashville. Ristolainen participated in the Sabres' optional morning skate. Larsson did not.

"It's been a long day," said Ristolainen, who has six goals and 12 assists and a minus-4 rating in 31 games with Rochester and one goal and a minus-9 rating in 24 games with Buffalo. "I woke up early. … But it's fine. I'm ready to play tonight."

Larsson has no goals and one assist in 21 games with Buffalo this season and 15 goals and 24 assists in 45 games with Rochester.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan said that defenseman Tyler Myers and center Torrey Mitchell would sit out the game on Thursday against the Predators, necessitating the call-ups.

Ristolainen was just up with the Sabres for five games and was sent back down on Monday. Nolan said Ristolainen will return to Rochester as soon as Myers can return, which the coach expected to be fairly soon.

Here are the projected lineups:


Marcus FolignoTyler EnnisDrew Stafford

Cory ConacherCody HodgsonJohan Larsson

Nicolas Deslauriers - Brian FlynnMatt D'Agostini

John ScottMatt EllisVille Leino

Christian EhrhoffRasmus Ristolainen

Henrik TallinderChad Ruhwedel

Mike WeberJamie McBain

Matt Hackett

Nathan Lieuwen

Injured: Michal Neuvirth (lower body), Jhonas Enroth (lower body), Zenon Konopka (back spasms), Torrey Mitchell (undisclosed), Alexander Sulzer (upper body), Tyler Myers (undisclosed), Zemgus Girgensons (lower body), Chris Stewart (ankle)


Matt Cullen - Mike Fisher - Patric Hornqvist

Gabriel Bourque - Calle Jarnkrok - Craig Smith

Nick Spaling - Colin Wilson - Viktor Stalberg

Eric Nystrom - Colton Sissons - Rich Clune

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Michael Del Zotto - Victor Bartley

Carter Hutton

Pekka Rinne

Injured: Seth Jones (concussion-like symptoms), Paul Gaustad (upper body), Patrick Eaves (upper body)

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