When the Nashville Predators take on the Buffalo Sabres tonight, there will be more than two points on the line. History could be made.
When the season started, who would have thought it would be filled with historic moments? Celebrating their 20th season, the Nashville Predators have enjoyed great accomplishments all year long. From Pekka Rinne‘s 300th win to David Poile being the winningest General Manager in NHL history, there has been much to enjoy. This year’s Predators have earned the most points in team history, besting the 2006-07 team.
Tonight presents another chance for two achievements to be unlocked. As it stands right now, the Predators lead the division by 7 points, the conference by 5. With a win tonight, and some help from other teams, the Nashville Predators can claim their first division title and regular season Western Conference championship. For this to happen, the Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights must oblige.
The Jets travel to Toronto tonight, the last playoff team they face this season. Should they lose in regulation, the Predators can clinch their first division title. As for Vegas, after beating the St. Louis Blues in overtime last night, the Golden Knights take on the San Jose Sharks tonight. Any loss for the Golden Knights helps the Predators win the Western Conference. However, a Jets loss is also needed.
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The only thing the Predators can control is their performance tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.
What to watch
The Nashville Predators ended their three-game skid by defeating the Wild on Tuesday, then added a win against the Sharks on Thursday. The 101st consecutive sellout at Bridgestone tonight will be in full force with history on the line. Or maybe because the newest arrival should be on the ice tonight. After lighting up the KHL and Olympics, Eeli Tolvanen is in Nashville and skated with the team on Thursday morning.
The 18-year-old Tolvanen earned 19 goals and 17 assists with Jokerit in the KHL. All of this was in 49 games and set a rookie record for points in the league. He added six more goals in the KHL playoffs. There is no doubting the talent he possesses offensively. His addition comes at a great time. His skills will be needed on a lacking Predators power play. It appears that is exactly where he will play.
As for the Sabres, while they may be the worst team in the NHL standings, they do have offensive weapons. Jack Eichel leads the team with 25 goals and 57 points, followed by Ryan O’Reilly with 54 points. However, the team scored more than 3 goals only three times since March 1. They have been shutout twice in that time frame, including at home against the Predators.
Tonight’s challenge is to stay healthy and be efficient for the Nashville Predators. After the game, the team flies to Tampa Bay for a game against the Lightning tomorrow. While Peter Laviolette has started Pekka Rinne in the first game of back-to-backs, I would not be shocked if Saros gets the call tonight. Austin Watson also appears ready to return to the active roster tonight after missing the last several games due to an upper-body injury. With Tolvanen playing, another forward will get a night off. Maybe Filip Forsburg.
Where to watch
Broadcast for tonight’s game will start at 7:00 p.m. Central Time on Fox Sports Tennessee, with pre-game starting at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch the game on the Fox Sports Go app or listen to the radio call on 102.5 The Game.