The NHL is set for three games on Monday night. One of those games includes top teams from each conference. The Buffalo Sabres will visit the Nashville Predators on December 3. Both teams have been off to really impressive starts this season, which should lead to a close game on Monday night.
The Sabres have been off to a quick start this season. Buffalo has earned a record of 17-7-3, which has them in third place of the Atlantic Division. The Sabres have lost their last two games to the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Before that, Buffalo had won ten games in a row. The Sabres will look to get back in the win column with a road victory on Monday night.
Nashville has started off the season with a record of 18-8-1. The Predators are sitting in first place of the Central Division. Nashville won their last game against the Chicago Blackhawks, but had lost back to back games before that. The Predators have been hit hard with injuries recently, which could continue to force them into some struggles.
Monday night’s matchup will be the first game between the Sabres and the Predators. Buffalo and Nashville will meet one more time on April 2. These two teams are both sitting towards the top of the NHL and I expect it to lead to a really good game on Monday night.
Last Season’s Matchups
The Sabres and Nashville met up twice during the regular season last season. Buffalo hosted the first matchup of the season. Filip Forsberg had a goal and an assist, while Viktor Arvidsson had two points. Pekka Rinne had a 35 shot shutout to help give the Predators a road win. Nashville finished with a 4-0 win.
The second game of the season series was held in Nashville. The Predators were led by Nick Bonino and Austin Watson, who each had a goal and an assist. Jack Eichel had a five-point night. Sam Reinhart had a hat trick, while Ryan O’Reilly and Rasmus Ristolainen each had three points. The Sabres put on a really good offensive display to pull off a 7-4 win on the road.
These two teams each won a game on the road to split the season series. Buffalo finished dead last in the NHL last season, while Nashville finished in first place at the end of the regular season. This season though, each team is competing for a top spot in the league. The winner of Friday night’s game will be tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning, if they lose, for the top spot in the NHL.
Buffalo has had some small injury problems early in this season. Scott Wilson is out for an extended period of time from ankle surgery. The Sabres could also be missing Jake McCabe, Marco Scandella and Conor Sheary are all out with injuries, but they could all be back for Monday night’s matchup.
The Predators have been hit hard with injuries recently, which has shown in their current record. Nashville has lost Viktor Arvidsson, Kyle Turris and Filip Forsberg for an extended period of time. The Predators have also been without P.K. Subban, who could be activated for Monday’s game. Nick Bonino is also questionable for Monday night.
Both teams are struggling with injuries, but Nashville is missing way more key players. The Predators are missing some key contributors in Turris, Forsberg, Arvidsson, and Subban. I believe that this could really hurt their chances against a strong Sabres team. Buffalo is missing some depth defenseman, but the Sabres have been playing strong even in their absence.
Carter Hutton will likely be the starter for Buffalo on Monday night. Hutton has done a really good job as the Sabres starter this season. He has posted a save percentage of .917 and a 2.63 GAA. Hutton has gone 12-7-1 in his 20 games played. A lot of the Sabres success this season has been because of the strong goalie play.
I expect Pekka Rinne to start in net for the Predators. Rinne has built off his Vezina winning campaign last season. He has gone 17-11-4 in his starts. Rinne has posted a .934 save percentage and a GAA of 1.86 this season. Rinne has been tough for just about every team to beat, which has led to Nashville being able to keep teams to a low score.
Both goalies have had really good starts for their respective teams. Hutton has filled in exactly as the Sabres needed him too, as a solid starter, which they haven’t had for a while. Rinne continues to get better with age it would seem. I believe that this could lead to a low scoring game.
Buffalo comes into this game after two tough one-goal losses. The Sabres have a prime chance to get back into the winning column on Monday night. Nashville is without a lot of key players due to injury, which could give Buffalo an edge. This will be Nashville’s first game without Filip Forsberg, which will show in the top line. Both goalies are also playing really well, which also means that this is anyone’s game to take.
BetOnline has the Predators listed as a -174 against the spread. This implies that Nashville will win this game 63.5 percent of the time. The Sabres are a really good team and I believe that these odds should be closer together. There is a lot of value in how big of underdogs Buffalo is in this game. I believe that they have a good chance to pull off the upset on the road.