NASHVILLE – There will be plenty of talent on the ice Monday night in Bridgestone Arena but who will be missing is going to be a major subplot to the Buffalo Sabres' game against the Nashville Predators.
The Predators are riddled with injuries. Both of their top-line wingers, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg, are going to be out weeks with upper-body ailments while there's also no clear timetable for center Kyle Turris or defenseman P.K. Subban to return to the lineup. Forward Nick Bonino has also been out with an illness.
The Sabres, meanwhile, will be without winger Jason Pominville for Monday's game and will continue to be minus defensemen Marco Scandella and Jake McCabe. Lawrence Pilut is expected to make his second straight appearance in the lineup.
Pominville, who turned 36 on Friday, was hit from behind by Florida defenseman Alex Petrovic during the third period of the overtime loss to the Panthers and went into the boards. He appeared to brace his fall with his hand and arm and that was where the injury took place. Pominville quickly got up and skated briskly off the ice and down the tunnel favoring his arm.
There is some thought Pominville may be dealing with a back issue. He had a lengthy skate Monday in Bridgestone Arena and referenced how the stiffness he was feeling Friday after the game had subsided. He also said he's hopeful of playing Tuesday night against Toronto in KeyBank Center.
— Buffalo Sabres plays and goals (@SabresPlays) December 1, 2018
"I didn't see the replay of it. I was in pain and aggravated about it," Pominville said. "I got right off the ice. It's always scary. They got a penalty on it and unfortunately we're weren't able to capitalize on it. Not plays you want to see for sure."
Monday's game will be Pominville's first miss of the season and thus end his chance at a ninth career season of playing all 82 games. He did that last year, the sixth time he did it with Buffalo. He also played two full schedules with Minnesota.
"I wish I would be out there. I'm not going to lie," Pominville said. "But I get the other side of it. There's a lot of hockey left to play and you always want to be cautious. I'm hopeful it keeps progressing the way it has because it's been a good couple days after how stiff it was the first night."
Rasmus Ristolainen sat out practice here Sunday for what Housley termed a maintenance day. He's likely nursing a leg problem after blocking a Steven Stamkos shot Thursday at Tampa Bay. He will play Monday. Conor Sheary (upper body) is a game-time decision but did extra work Monday morning and may miss his third straight game.
The Predators beat Chicago, 5-2, here Saturday night with a patchwork lineup filled with AHL callups. In fact, eight of their 12 forwards were making less than $1 million on the cap and the five players who sat out counted more than $29 million against it.
"It’s part of the game. Obviously it's a big part right now," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said of the injuries after the win. "It’s different when you lose one. When it was just (Arvidsson), it was ‘All right, well, we’ll juggle it up a little bit.’ But I still think that there was a real belief that we were going to be successful."
"We’ve got to step up,” added center Ryan Johansen, who has an eight-game point streak against the Sabres. “Guys need to step up, including myself, including (goaltender Pekka Rinne and defenseman Roman Josi). Throughout our whole lineup, we need everyone stepping up right now. That’ll be motivation every game.”
The road team has won the last six meetings in the series, with the last home win a 3-0 victory by the Predators here on March 21, 2015. The Sabres have won three straight games in Bridgestone Arena, including a 7-4 victory on March 31 that marked Housley's return to the Music City after he served as an assistant on the Preds' 2017 Stanley Cup finalists.
The Sabres' 11-3-1 record in November produced a .767 points percentage, their best for a full month since they were 8-2-1 in October 2009 (.773). At 17-7-3 entering December, they're at their highest point this deep in a season since they were 19-3-2 (.833) in 2006-07.
Sabres forward Jeff Skinner enters the game second in the NHL in goals with 20, one behind Winnipeg's Patrik Laine. He's also second to Laine in road goals with 12 while the Winnipeg sharpshooter has 15.
Skinner had 15 goals in November to join Rick Martin (1972-73) as the only Sabre to enter December with 20 goals. When Alexander Mogilny scored a franchise-record 76 goals for Buffalo during the 1992-93 season, he entered December with 16.