NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, March 20th (All times eastern)
Nashville Predators (37-25-10) at Buffalo Sabres (35-28-8), 5 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres set a season-high for goals in a game last night and will try to keep the offense going today, when they host the surging Nashville Predators at HSBC Arena.
The Sabres destroyed the visiting Atlanta Thrashers, 8-2, on Saturday in a game between a pair of Eastern Conference playoff contenders. As a result of the win, Buffalo moved two points ahead of idle Carolina to regain sole possession of the East's eighth and final postseason berth.
Like Buffalo, Nashville would also be in the playoffs if the season ended today. The Predators, who have won four of their last five games, are tied with Chicago for the West's final two playoff spots and the clubs are just one point in front of Anaheim and Calgary. All four of those clubs are in action today, with Chicago visiting Phoenix and the Ducks hosting the Flames.
Mark Mancari scored his first goal of the season and added two assists in Buffalo's rout on Saturday. Rob Niedermayer lit the lamp twice, while Tim Connolly, Jason Pominville and Nathan Gerbe all added a goal and an assist for the Sabres.
Brad Boyes and Tyler Ennis also scored for Buffalo, which got 28 saves from Ryan Miller. The victory was the second in three games for Buffalo and improved the Sabres' record in March to 6-3-1.
"It was probably the most energy I've felt in this building in a long time," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said of HSBC Arena.
Buffalo is 16-16-3 as the host this year and is 2-1-0 on a four-game homestand that ends today.
Nashville, meanwhile, went 4-1-0 on a recent five-game homestand and is on the road for just one test before return to Music City for another four-game residency. The Predators have an 18-17-3 record as the road team this season.
The Predators earned a second straight victory Saturday night against Detroit. Jonathon Blum's power-play goal in the third period put Nashville in front, and the Predators went on to take a 3-1 victory over the visiting Red Wings.
Blake Geoffrion also tallied while David Legwand added an empty-net marker for the Predators. Nashville also beat Detroit for the fourth time in 2010-11, clinching the victory in the six-game season series.
"To come in here and get a win like this, especially in a playoff race, is awesome," Geoffrion said.
Pekka Rinne made 39 saves, including 20 in the third period. Rinne is 1-1-0 with a 0.50 goals-against average in his career against Buffalo, while Miller is 2-2-0 with a lifetime 2.35 GAA versus the Predators.
This evening's test marks the lone meeting between Buffalo and the Predators this season. The Sabres recorded a 1-0 victory in Nashville last season to win for the third time in the last four encounters. The Preds, however, are 4-1 with a tie in six all-time trips to western New York.
03/20 11:02:57 ET