It's been three years since the Nashville Predators last faced the Buffalo Sabres. Their records suggest their could be more than one matchup between them this season.
The Predators look to extend their winning streak to six games as they host the Sabres on Thursday.
These teams haven't met since Nov. 29, 2003, when the Predators won 4-1 in Nashville. Thursday's matchup - the only one between the teams in the regular season - is a potential Stanley Cup finals preview as Nashville (23-8-3) is second in the Western Conference with 49 points while Buffalo (24-7-2) leads the East with 50.
The Predators matched their longest winning streak of the season with a 2-1 win over Chicago on Wednesday.
Nashville also won five straight from Oct. 26-Nov. 4, and its last six-game winning streak came at the end of last season.
Paul Kariya scored twice in the third period to help Nashville extend its streak, giving him three goals and five assists in his last five games. Kariya has only nine goals this season, but he leads the Predators with 34 points.
"He's been one of our best forwards the last little while here," Predators coach Barry Trotz said.
Chris Mason, who is expected to make his first-ever start against the Sabres, made 28 saves while starting his 13th straight game for Nashville. He is 9-3-1 since top goalie Tomas Vokoun underwent hand surgery on Nov. 27.
Buffalo has lost consecutive games - both at home - for the first time this season. The Sabres haven't lost three straight at home since dropping four in a row from Oct. 26-Nov. 9, 2005.
"We didn't meet one of our goals of not losing twice," said Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller, who has allowed eight goals in the two games. "It's not the end of the world, but we should feel a little ticked off."
Ales Kotalik and Jaroslav Spacek scored for Buffalo, but the Sabres lost 5-2 to Montreal on Tuesday.
The Sabres went 0-for-4 with the man advantage and are 5-of-60 (8.3 percent) in their last 11 games.
"Trying not to lose two in a row is an extremely tough task," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff, whose team is beginning a two-game road trip before the Christmas break. "It's going to be interesting how we react."
Kotalik scored 34 seconds after the opening faceoff, snapping his 13-game drought without a goal. He has seven goals and 11 assists in 33 games.
Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur made his NHL debut. Clarke, Buffalo's third-round pick in 2003, led Rochester of the AHL in scoring with 12 goals and 22 assists.
The Predators are 3-0-1 against the Sabres since a 2-0 loss on Jan. 6, 2001, in Nashville.