NHL: Sabres, Predators look to come back from lopsided losses
The host Buffalo Sabres and Nashville Predators each will look to end a three-game losing streak and rebound from their most lopsided shutout defeats of the season when they meet Tuesday night.
The Sabres and Predators both were blanked 7-0 in their most recent games Sunday, with Buffalo dominated at home by the league-leading Boston Bruins and Nashville pummeled on the road by the New York Rangers.
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Buffalo (33-30-6, 72 points) is six points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Nashville (34-26-8, 76 points) trails Winnipeg by five points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after also falling at home to the Jets 3-2 in overtime on Saturday.
The Sabres trailed the Bruins on Sunday 1-0 after just 15 seconds and 3-0 at the 11:40 mark of the first period.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (15-11-4, 3.67 goals-against average) made 18 saves for Buffalo, which has lost three straight and nine of its past 11 games (2-7-2).
“We believe we’re still in it, but we’ve got to actually go out and play,” Sabres forward Dylan Cozens said. “It’s not going to be easy games. Everyone wants to win at this time of the year. It’s just unacceptable for us this last stretch.”
Buffalo is led by Tage Thompson, who is sixth in the league with 42 goals in addition to 45 assists for a team-high 87 points. The latter ranks 10th in the league.
Teammate Jeff Skinner has 29 goals and 38 assists for 67 points, while Alex Tuch (30 goals, 34 assists) and defender Rasmus Dahlin (14 goals, team-high 49 assists) also are having strong seasons.
While the Bruins gradually pulled away from the Sabres, Nashville was dominated by the Rangers from the outset.
New York scored on six of its first eight shots during a six-goal first period, causing Nashville goalie Kevin Lankinen (8-6-1, 2.70 GAA) to be pulled after allowing four goals on just five shots. He was replaced by Juuse Saros (26-19-7, 2.75 GAA), who allowed three goals the rest of the way.
“It’s humbling to get beat 7-0,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “It’s something we can learn from, and we will. Tonight wasn’t good enough.”
The Predators were without captain and leading scorer Roman Josi (18 goals, team-high 41 assists), who was injured against Winnipeg on Saturday. They also are without defenseman Ryan McDonagh, Filip Forsberg (19 goals, 23 assists) and center Ryan Johansen (12 goals, 16 assists), who are sidelined with injuries.
Matt Duchene, with 19 goals and 32 assists, is second on the team in points with 51.
In the first regular-season meeting this season between Buffalo and Nashville, the visiting Sabres jumped to a 3-1 lead en route to a 5-3 win on Jan. 14.
Jack Quinn had a goal and an assist, while Kyle Okposo, Victor Olofsson, Jeff Skinner and Cozens also scored for the Sabres.
Johansen had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who also received goals from Josi and Jeremy Lauzon.
–Field Level Media
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