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Sabres finish five-game trip vs. Predators

by Davis Harper

SABRES (20-44-8) at PREDATORS (31-31-11)


Last 10: Buffalo 1-9-0; Nashville 5-4-1

Season series: Shea Weber had a goal and an assist when the Nashville Predators beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on March 11. The Sabres visit Nashville for the first time since Dec. 11, 2011, when they came away with a 3-2 win.

Big story: This game will be a tale of two goalies.

With injuries to Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth, Sabres rookie Matt Hackett has stepped up. Hackett is 1-1-0 with a .958 save percentage and 1.51 goals-against average in his first two appearances for the Sabres. Coach Ted Nolan said Hackett has earned the temporary starter's job.

"Hackett definitely earned it. That's one thing about now, it's audition time. You audition and you do a couple good auditions, you should get another one," Nolan said.

Predators franchise goalie Pekka Rinne has made nearly every start since returning from injury on March 4, but with mixed results. Rinne has gone 3-5-2, but made 29 saves in a 2-0 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

Team Scope:

Sabres: The Sabres have the longest injury list in the NHL, with nine players -- including both regular goalies -- currently out of the lineup. While the Sabres have sunk further down the standings as a result, the injuries have given Nolan a chance to audition AHL talent.

"Almost every game somebody goes down. It's one of those things, when things go bad, I guess they go bad," Nolan said. "Now it gives a chance for some more kids from Rochester who've been playing well, maybe have a chance to play here the last six, seven games."

After defenseman Tyler Myers and forwards Marcus Foligno and Torrey Mitchell all left with injuries Tuesday in a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, there is a chance that more players from the Sabres' AHL affiliate in Rochester could be called up as the Sabres finish up their five-game road trip at Bridgestone Arena.

Predators: Nashville hasn't won at home since Feb. 27, a six-game skid, and with 73 points in 73 games, the Predators are nine points behind the Phoenix Coyotes, who own the Western Conference's second wild-card position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Predators need wins, home and away, and some luck if they hope to close the gap.

"We have a chance here to collect two points at home," coach Barry Trotz said. "We've got to get something going on at home. Our last 15 games at home haven't been great, while our last 15 games away have been. It's a trade off, but this is the place we have to make it real hard for a team to come in and get points."

Who's hot: Tyler Ennis has a goal and an assist in Buffalo's past three games and lead the Sabres with 19 goals and 38 points. … Nashville rookie center Calle Jarnkrok has three assists in three games since being acquired from the Detroit Red Wings. Jarnkrok also converted first career shootout attempt Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche.

Injury report: Buffalo goalies Enroth (leg) and Neuvirth (lower body) are day-to-day. Nolan said Foligno should be ready to play Thursday. Mitchell (undisclosed) and Myers (undisclosed) were to be re-evaluated Wednesday. Center Zenon Konopka (back), forward Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) and defenseman Alexander Sulzer (upper body) are day-to-day. Winger Chris Stewart (ankle) is out for the season. … Nashville defenseman Seth Jones (concussion), winger Patrick Eaves (lower body) and center Paul Gaustad (upper body) are all day-to-day.

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