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Sabres, Predators look to keep up early success @NHLdotcom

SABRES (1-0-1) at PREDATORS (2-0-0)

Season series: First and only meeting this season. Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont scored third-period goals 2:33 apart on Dec. 1, 2008, to lead Nashville to a 2-0 win at Buffalo in last season's only matchup between these teams. Pekka Rinne made 30 saves to earn his first NHL shutout.

Big Story: Neither team has lost in regulation over its first two games and they've combined to grab seven of a possible eight points. Buffalo hits the road for the first time this season while Nashville plays the second of a three-game homestand.

Team Scope:

Sabres – The last time Buffalo faced Nashville, each team was playing its third game in four nights, and the Sabres were near the end of a four-in-six stretch. It led to what coach Lindy Ruff called "the most boring game I've ever been involved with," one in which the Predators eventually broke through to win.

"They are almost a mirror-image of how we're playing, where it's tight-gap and puck pressure," he said. "They always have two men going. We've seen teams like Montreal will only have one going where we're able to pick our way and get in and get some opportunities.

"Nashville is different. You make a D-to-D pass, they're jumping the pass. You make a pass to your winger, the D are jumping that pass. There's not a lot of time, there's not a lot of ice. We're going to have to be good on our execution and we're going to have to make sure if they're going to tight-gap us, we get some pucks in behind them."

Predators – Looking to rebound after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03, Nashville has a pair of character wins to its credit. The Predators let a two-goal lead slip away against Dallas in its opener but pulled it out 3-2 in the shootout, then erased a 2-1 lead in the third period to edge Colorado, 3-2, on Thursday.

"We threw that word around, resiliency, just non-stop (my) first year,'' goalie Dan Ellis said. "Last year it didn't happen quite as often.

"Much of that was my own fault and maybe others. But this year, we've turned things around.''

Who's Hot – Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller hasn't been overworked in his first two starts, facing just 41 shots, but he's stopped 38 of them and is 1-0-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Patric Hornqvist had two career goals in 29 games plus two periods of Thursday's game against the Avalanche before the Predators forward scored twice in a span of 2:17 to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory. Ellis is 2-0-0 with a 1.92 GAA and .938 save percentage.

Injury Report – Buffalo is awaiting the returns of defenseman Toni Lydman (hand) and forward Adam Mair (hip surgery). Mair has been cleared by team doctors. Nashville forward J.P. Dumont sat out the last game after a hard hit into the boards in the opener against Dallas. Forward Jordin Tootoo is sidelined due to a hip flexor, while forward Joel Ward missed the last game against Colorado with a groin injury, though he has been skating.

Stat Pack – Nashville's top defense pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are plus-four through two games, while forwards Jason Arnott, Steve Sullivan and Hornqvist are all plus-three. Hornqvist stepped in on the top line against the Avalanche with Dumont out.

Puck Drop – Both these teams are used to defensive battles, so don't be surprised if this game has a 2-1 outcome. The only question is which goalie blinks first.

-- Brian Hunter,


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