Preview: Predators at Sabres
Winning the Central Division title did not pay off for the Nashville Predators last season after they were bounced by second-place Winnipeg in the second round of the playoffs. The Predators are in a much tighter battle for divisional supremacy this season as they prepare to play their final road game at the woeful Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
Nashville is two points behind Winnipeg and tied with St. Louis for second in the division with three to play so they cannot afford a slip-up against the bedraggled Sabres, who have gone belly-up and closed out March with one win wedged between a pair of seven-game slides. The Predators had a two-game winning streak halted in Saturday's 5-2 loss to red-hot Columbus despite Viktor Arvidsson tying a franchise single-season record with his 33rd goal. The Predators have won their last seven visits to Buffalo, which also was victimized at home by the Blue Jackets in its last game -- a 4-0 loss that had the fans chanting for the dismissal of coach Phil Housley. "It's frustrating. I understand the fans' frustration. Guys are frustrated," Housley said. "It's always difficult when you don't get the results."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Tennessee (Nashville), MSG-Buffalo
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (44-29-6): Forward Austin Watson, who started the season on suspension for a domestic violence incident and was suspended again in January for substance abuse, returned to practice Monday. Watson was recalled from Milwaukee after scoring four goals in two games for Nashville's American Hockey League affiliate. "He's played well down there and got his game back up to speed, and it's great to have him back around," forward Colton Sissons said. "We'll probably have a chance to get our line back together, so I'm really looking forward to it."
ABOUT THE SABRES (31-38-10): How bad has it been for the Buffalo? The same team that won 10 in a row in November has one regulation victory over its last 23 games and has surrendered at least four goals 16 times in that span. "We've got to give them something to cheer about, and we didn't tonight," forward Kyle Okposo said of the fans following the latest defeat that dropped the Sabres to 1-12-2 in the last 15. "They've got a right to be upset. They've been through a lot of aches, a lot of heart ache, and we need to be better for them."
1. Predators G Pekka Rinne is 5-2-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average and three shutouts versus Buffalo.
2. Sabres captain Jack Eichel has three goals and six assists in seven games versus Nashville.
3. The Predators recalled F Miikka Salomaki from Milwaukee on Monday.
PREDICTION: Predators 4, Sabres 2