If the Buffalo Sabres play the same way they did at home against the Nashville Predators – minus a few defensive breakdowns – then a better result might be in store Saturday night in Music City.
Buffalo will look to correct the mistakes that led to a 3-2 loss to Nashville on Wednesday at First Niagara Center in a rematch with the Predators Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. In their first meeting, the Sabres lost despite generating a 65-37 edge in shot attempts over Nashville.
“We did a lot of good things in that game against Nashville,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “We got on the backside of the first goal, which was their first opportunity, and second period we made a mistake and gave them a 2-0 lead.
“But that’s the way we need to play is the way we played in that game against them in Buffalo.”
Pregame coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard on WGR 550 with puck drop set for 8 p.m.
Former Sabres defenseman and current Nashville assistant coach Phil Housley, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 9, will be honored with a ceremonial puck drop prior to the game.
Neither forward Tyler Ennis nor defenseman Mark Pysyk made the trip with the team to Nashville and both players will be absent on Saturday. Ennis has missed two games with an upper-body injury while Pysyk has missed five games with a bone bruise in his lower body.
Bylsma said that Ennis is day-to-day.
Chad Johnson will make his second-straight start in net after making 27 saves on 28 shots to help Buffalo snap a six-game losing streak in a 4-1 win against Carolina on Friday.
Johnson stopped all 12 of the shots he faced in 32:02 of ice time after coming in to relieve Linus Ullmark against the Predators on Wednesday.
“I think one thing that’s been impressive about him is just his demeanor; his calm, collective demeanor,” Bylsma said. “When he went in the game against Nashville last time, those two periods were solid and steady and he’s just continued on with the game last night.
“Really in control, really calm and collected; he wasn’t tested hugely in last night’s game but was really good for us and that’s exactly the game we’re looking for from him tonight.”
Bylsma said that he will stick with the same lines from the team’s win over Carolina, but who will be scratched remains a game-time decision. Forward Johan Larsson was a healthy scratch on Friday and Tim Schaller played in his place.
Defenseman Mike Weber, who has missed nine games since undergoing surgery to repair a knee injury he sustained on Nov. 10, is also available to play.
9 Evander Kane – 90 Ryan O’Reilly – 23 Sam Reinhart
26 Matt Moulson – 15 Jack Eichel – 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 82 Marcus Foligno
59 Tim Schaller/22 Johan Larsson –17 David Legwand – 88 Jamie McGinn
4 Josh Gorges – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe – 47 Zach Bogosian
25 Carlo Colaiacovo – 46 Cody Franson
31 Chad Johnson
35 Linus Ullmark