No team in the NHL has fewer points than the Buffalo Sabres, who have all but been eliminated from contention.
While the Nashville Predators sit at the bottom of the Central Division, they’re still holding out hope of making a run.
It’s been over two years since the Sabres last faced the Predators, who are looking to build on a rare win when they visit Buffalo on Tuesday night.
The Sabres (19-37-8) are on the verge of a third straight defeat after falling 2-0 at Florida on Friday and 2-1 to Chicago on Sunday. Drew Stafford tied the game midway through the first period against the defending Stanley Cup champs, but Jhonas Enroth allowed the go-ahead goal early in the third.
"It’s not a sometime thing, winning. It’s an all-the-time thing. If you let off the gas pedal, if you have bad shift or two, it’s going to come and bite you pretty good," interim coach Ted Nolan, who is reportedly close to accepting the full-time job, told the team’s official website. "(Chicago is) one of the premier teams in the league and it shows you how far we have to go."
Enroth had won three of four starts before making 29 saves against the Blackhawks. His winning percentage of .283 (4-14-5) is the worst in the league among the 56 goalies with at least 15 starts.
The Sabres are 0 for their last 10 on the power play following Sunday’s 0-for-5 display.
"What do we take out of that one?" center Tyler Ennis said. "One: Jhony’s playing great. Two: We’ve got to stay out of the box. And, three: Our power play’s got to be better."
With 46 points, Buffalo is still two away from matching its total from last year’s lockout-shortened season.
"Right now that’s the main goal – is to just earn the respect from other teams," winger Cory Conacher said. "Obviously we might not make the playoffs, but we want to win as many games as we can going into the summer and just to gain the respect from only the league."
The Predators (27-28-10) had scored three goals while losing four straight in regulation before pulling out a wild 4-3 overtime win at Ottawa on Monday. Nashville, which scored three goals in the second period before allowing three in the third, walked away with two points after Seth Jones tallied the game winner with just over a minute left in OT.
"It was a tough one to slip away and we almost gave it away," said Jones, whose team is eight points behind Dallas for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. "We need all the points we can get right now so it was nice to pull away with two."
Pekka Rinne made 34 saves to earn his first win in four games since returning from a hip injury that kept him out for over four months.
"It was a big win, but there’s no denying that going into the third with a three-goal lead you have to be able to maintain it and come out with a regulation time win," Rinne told the NHL’s official website."
Despite Rinne’s performance, the Predators will go with Carter Hutton in this game. Hutton, 1-2-2 with a 2.99 goals-against average since the start of February, has never faced the Sabres.
Nashville hasn’t played Buffalo since a 3-2 loss on Dec. 3, 2011.