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Sharpen Up: All the Sabres news you need to know on January 18, 2020

What you need to know on a game day in Nashville

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

It's a game night in Nashville. 

The Sabres visit the Predators for their final game before the bye week. They have won three straight games and five of their last seven, coming off a 4-1 victory in Dallas on Thursday. 

Coverage on MSG begins at 7:30 p.m., or you can listen to the game on WGR 550. Puck drop is scheduled for 8. 

Here's what you need to know. 


Tonight's matchup

It's the second and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Sabres won the first matchup, 4-3, in Buffalo on Dec. 12. Jack Eichel scored two goals while Linus Ullmark made 36 saves. 

The Predators have had an uncharacteristically inconsistent season to date. They parted ways with coach Peter Laviolette on Jan. 6 and replaced him with John Hynes, the former New Jersey Devils coach, the following day. They're 2-3-0 since then, coming off a 4-2 loss to Anaheim on Thursday. 

A glance at the numbers suggests special teams have been the problem. Nashville is plus-22 at 5-on-5, but its power play ranks 25th (16.6 percent) and its penalty kill sits in 30th (73.1 percent). 

The Sabres, meanwhile, have benefitted from their special teams play as of late. Though the power play went 0-for-2 against Dallas' top-ranked penalty kill after going 6-for-13 in five games prior, the penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4. Michael Frolik capped the effort with an empty-net, shorthanded goal. 

Here are a few numbers to know going into tonight.

•   Jack Eichel is streaking once again. The Sabres captain has points in nine straight games, one of two players (along with Boston's David Pastrnak) to record separate streaks of nine games or more this season. 

•   Eichel should feel plenty comfortable as he looks to extend his streak to double digits. He's tallied 11 points (5+6) in nine career games against the Predators, seven of which have come on the road. He had a career-best, five-assist game at Bridgestone Arena on March 31, 2018.


•   Rasmus Ristolainen enters tonight's game on a four-game point streak (1+3). With a point tonight, he would extend his streak to five games for the second time this season.

•   Curtis Lazar has points in each of the Sabres' last three games (1+3), marking his second three-game point streak in the last three weeks and tying his run from March 26 to 29, 2015 as the longest of his career.

•   Linus Ullmark is 5-1-0 since the beginning of January with a .929 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average. He has allowed just one even-strength goal in each of Buffalo's last three games, stopping 65 of 68 shots (.956) at even strength in those contests.


Friday's practice 

The Sabres assembled at Bridgestone Arena along with their guests as the team continued its annual Fathers' Trip. We caught up with some of the dads in yesterday's Sabres in :50.

Video: SABRES IN :50

"Being around all these dads, the support, it's nice to see," Jack Eichel's dad Bob said. "It's so accommodating. We went to the Dallas Cowboys training facility yesterday. It's wonderful. And of course, all the food we get to eat. It's been great."

Read yesterday's practice report for more from Bob Eichel, Paul Reinhart, and Martin Dahlin.

Here's how the Sabres lined up at practice: 

13 Jimmy Vesey - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
27 Curtis Lazar - 90 Marcus Johansson - 67 Michael Frolik
20 Scott Wilson - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 74 Rasmus Asplund

Defense: 4 Zach Bogosian, 10 Henri Jokiharju, 19 Jake McCabe, 24 Lawrence Pilut, 26 Rasmus Dahlin, 33 Colin Miller, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 62 Brandon Montour

35 Linus Ullmark
40 Carter Hutton


Alumni Wine Fest returns March 12

The Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association will host the 16th annual Buffalo Sabres Alumni Wine Festival on Thursday, March 12 at KeyBank Center from 6 to 9:30 p.m. The event, co-sponsored by KeyBank, Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, John W. Danforth and LECOM, will feature wineries and restaurants from Buffalo, Niagara-on-the-Lake and beyond.

Through the first 15 years of the event, the Wine Festival has raised $1 million in funds to benefit breast cancer care in Western New York. A portion of the funds from this year's Wine Fest will benefit the WNY Women's Resource Center at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is sponsored and supported by the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association and their wives, along with other worthy organizations throughout the region.

"We are thrilled to bring back the Wine Festival for another year, especially after having achieved such an incredible milestone at last year's event," Sabres Alumni president Rob Ray said. "The work that Roswell does is second to none, and it means so much to me and the rest of the Sabres alumni to be able to support them."

Click here for ticket packages and more information.

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