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Game Day: Preds vs. Sabres

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(11-6-3) Nashville Predators vs. Buffalo Sabres (8-11-2)
  6 P.M. (CT) | First Niagara Center | #NSHvsBUF
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game


The Nashville Predators roll into Western New York tonight to face the Buffalo Sabres as their trek away from home continues. It's the first of two meetings between the Preds and Sabres; the other will take place on Saturday night back in Nashville.

It's been three games since the Preds have been able to find the back of the net, having lost most recently to the New York Rangers on Monday night by a 3-0 final, but it hasn't been for lack of trying. Nashville registered 31 shots on goal against the Rangers, but couldn't beat the stellar play of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Buffalo fell 2-1 to the St. Louis Blues on Monday night, and the Sabres are winless in their last five outings (0-3-2). Nashville has done well at the First Niagara Center in recent memory, going 4-0-0 in their last four trips there. The Predators have also won four straight overall against the Sabres, outscoring their opponent 14-3 during that stretch.

Tonight will be Cody Hodgson's first contest against his former club; the Preds forward skated in Buffalo from 2012-15, including recording a 20-goal season in 2013-14.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne's next appearance will be his 400th career NHL game, making him the fourth Finnish-born goaltender in NHL history to reach the 400-game plateau, behind Miikka Kiprusoff (623), Kari Lehtonen (520) and Niklas Backstrom (409). He is also one of seven NHL goaltenders since 2008-09 - when he became an NHL mainstay - to win at least 200 games.

James Neal paces the Preds in goals and points this season, with nine and 15, respectively. Defenseman Roman Josi is next with 13 points, followed by Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg, who have two goals and nine assists each. Captain Shea Weber has six goals this season, five of which have come on the power play, while Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok have each tallied four times. Rinne is 10-4-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.

Mike Fisher has a point in three of his last four games versus the Sabres (1g-2a) while Smith has notched a point in four of his last five games against Buffalo (3g-2a).

Ryan O'Reilly is Buffalo's leader in goals (7) and points (16) on the season, with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen second in points with 12. Rookie forward and 2015 second-overall pick Jack Eichel has potted six goals in 21 games for the Sabres to go along with four helpers. Goaltender Chad Johnson has seen a slim majority of the starts for the Sabres, going 4-7-1 on the season. Linus Ullmark owns a 4-4-1 record with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.

The Predators have an 11-6-2 record all-time versus the Sabres, including a 7-1-1 record in Buffalo.


What to Watch For - Pete & Chris:


Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators:

Below is the team's projected lineup based on the line rushes during Wednesday's morning skate:


Forwards
Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro James Neal
Colin Wilson Mike Fisher Craig Smith
Gabriel Bourque Calle Jarnkrok Cody Hodgson
Eric Nystrom Paul Gaustad Austin Watson
Defense
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Barret Jackman Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis

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Goaltenders: Carter Hutton is the projected starter with Pekka Rinne serving as the backup.

Extra:
(F) Miikka Salomaki, (D) Victor Bartley, (D) Anthony Bitetto


Buffalo Sabres:

Forwards
Matt Moulson Ryan O'Reilly Brian Gionta
Evander Kane Jack Eichel Sam Reinhart
Johan Larsson Zemgus Girgensons Tyler Ennis
Marcus Foligno David Legwand Jamie McGinn
Defense
Josh Gorges Rasmus Ristolainen
Zach Bogosian Jake McCabe
Carlo Colaiacovo Cody Franson

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Goaltenders: Linus Ullmark has been announced as the starter with Chad Johnson serving as the backup.

Extra:
(F) Nicolas Deslauriers, (F) Tim Schaller, (D) Mark Pysyk

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