The Buffalo Sabres will attempt to make it three wins in a row as they swoop into Smashville to take on the Nashville Predators tonight in the first of two meetings this season. The Sabres just came off of a pair of identical 3-2 overtime wins at the hands of Kyle Okposo this past Friday over the Detroit Red Wings, and Zach Bogosian on Saturday night over the Montreal Canadiens. A win is a win no matter how long it takes. However, I’m sure the coaches, players, and fans would rather see the team win some games outright in regulation for a change.
The Predators enter the game having won their last 3 games and are now 7-3-0 over their last 10 games. Who to watch out for? Philip Forsberg has been on fire as of late with six points (5g-1a) in his last six games along with an NHL-leading four game-winning goals over that same span.
This Nashville team is an incredibly hard team to outwork. So, the Buffalo Sabres will have their hands full if they don’t match their work ethic. With their history of slow starts and falling behind, catching back up against the Predators will prove even more difficult for this Sabres team. They must be consistent in their backchecking while remaining aggressive in their forechecking.
The Sabres, as stated above, enter the game having eked out their last 2 games and are now 6-4 over their last 10 games. Who to watch for? I am going to say, Ryan O’Reilly. The guy has been a beast as of late. A real leader. On and off the ice. He plays the game with fire and relentless tenacity that just schools others players. None more than the goal he scored late in the Detroit game last Friday night where he just threw aside the Detroit winger, grabbed the puck, skated around the net and backhanded into the top corner. Brute strength of body, will and mind. The Sabres need to mimic that type of effort tonight.
Notes: Kyle Okposo has 7 go-ahead goals and 2 game tying goals to go along with his team-leading 14 goals and 30 points.
Early reports have Sabres Defensemen Dmitry Kulikov not taking the morning skate, but stating he would like to participate in tonight’s game. However, according to Head Coach Dan Bylsma, he will suit up for this evening’s contest.
In the Net: Robin Lehner will make his 31st appearance of the season. He brings with him a record of 11-12-0-5 with a 2.52 and .921 save percentage. His last start was a win Saturday night over the Montreal Canadiens where he stopped 36-38 shots he faced. Most important was the outstanding glove save he made in overtime to keep the score even.
Tonight will be the second to the last game before the All-Star break this weekend. The Sabres will fly out of Nashville to the Dallas, Texas where they will take on the Stars on Thursday night before enjoying some time off.