A chance to clinch their first Central Division title exists tonight for the Nashville Predators as they try for another perfect homestand with the Buffalo Sabres in town. The Preds beat former Assistant Coach Phil Housley and the Sabres by a 4-0 final back on March 19.
Wins over Minnesota and San Jose have already come this week, with the Preds reaching 111 points in the standings, the highest single-season total in franchise history. Now, the Predators have a chance to win the Central Division this evening, needing a regulation loss from Winnipeg in Toronto, along with a victory tonight over the Sabres.
Eeli Tolvanen, who arrived in Nashville on Thursday and signed a three-year, entry-level contract, will make his NHL debut tonight.
Juuse Saros made 39 saves and five different Preds found the back of the net in a 5-3 victory against the Sharks at Bridgestone Arena. Kyle Turris, Viktor Arvidsson, Craig Smith, Ryan Ellis and Nick Bonino all tallied for Nashville as the Predators won their second straight after going winless in their previous three outings.
Arvidsson leads the club with 29 goals and 60 points, followed by Filip Forsberg with 58 points and P.K. Subban with 55. Kevin Fiala has 23 goals on the season, Smith has 22 and Forsberg has 21 markers.
The Buffalo Sabres converted on the power play four different times and Sam Reinhart recorded a hat trick as the Nashville Predators fell, 7-4, to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.
The loss ends Nashville’s two-game winning streak, and coupled with other action in the League on Saturday, the Predators will have to wait for their potential Central Division and conference-clinching scenarios.
Nashville held a 4-3 lead late in the second period when Scott Hartnell hit rookie Victor Antipin behind the Sabres’ net. Antipin immediately fell to the ice following the collision and needed a stretcher to exit the playing surface. Hartnell was given a boarding major and game misconduct at 14:09 of the second and the Sabres scored three goals on the subsequent man advantage to take a 6-4 lead into the second intermission.
“It was on the forecheck. I saw the guy reverse the puck. I just tried to rub him out. I think his chin hit the glass,” Hartnell said. “You see the guy laying there – your stomach gets all turned upside down. You see the stretcher and all that kind of stuff and it made it feel worse, so, it was an unfortunate play and I hope Victor’s all right.”