Preds try to avoid three-game skid in Buffalo

( - The Nashville Predators hope to avoid their first three- game losing streak of the season when they conclude a road trip with Sunday's clash against the Buffalo Sabres.

The Predators have dropped two straight for the third time this season, losing 5-2 Thursday against the New York Islanders before falling in a shootout Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Nashville, which leads the NHL with 85 points, last dropped three straight games from March 15-19 of last season. The Preds hadn't lost consecutive tilts this season until Jan. 17-20 with consecutive setbacks in Detroit and Montreal.

The Predators picked up a point Saturday, but Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek delivered the game-winning tally in the shootout.

Voracek opened the shootout by lifting a backhand over Pekka Rinne, and Rob Zepp followed that with a stop on Matt Cullen. After Wayne Simmonds snapped a shot between the pads of Rinne, Zepp gloved a Craig Smith shot for the win.

Smith and Colin Wilson scored for the Predators, while Rinne made 31 stops through overtime.

"I thought the second half of the game we showed up and played pretty well," said Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette. "There were a lot of chances and could've scored in the third period and overtime, but like I said just a little slow getting out of the gate, but Pekka was good."

Forward Mike Santorelli and defenseman Cody Franson, who were acquired in a trade with Toronto last Sunday, finally skated for Nashville in Philadelphia. The players -- both former draft picks of Nashville -- saw their 2014-15 Predators' debuts delayed by weather and immigration issues.

Santorelli logged 12 minutes, 11 seconds of ice time and played right wing on the third line alongside centerman Calle Jarnkrok and Cullen. Franson was paired with Mattias Ekholm and played 17:52.

Nashville. which is 14-10-6 as the visiting team this season, could use backup goaltender Carter Hutton this evening.

The Sabres, who are last in the NHL standings, have lost five of their last six games. Ted Nolan's club halted a four-game slide with Thursday's shootout win in Philadelphia, but were handed a 3-1 home loss the following night against the New York Rangers.

Buffalo scored 14 seconds into Friday's game, but couldn't get another one past Rangers goaltender Mackenzie Skapski, who was making his NHL debut. Carl Hagelin knotted the score over five minutes later and Rick Nash put the Rangers ahead for good less than a minute into the second period.

Matt Moulson supplied the lone score for the Sabres, while Michal Neuvirth was the hard-luck loser, stopping 40 shots in the setback.

"That's a very good team, they got to the Stanley Cup Finals, not by accident," Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said.

Buffalo fell to 11-18-2 as the host and is capping a brief two-game homestand on Sunday.

This evening's tilt is the first of two scheduled encounters between the Preds and Sabres this season. The clubs will meet again on March 21 in Nashville.

Buffalo has lost two straight, three of four and seven of the past 11 meetings in this series. Nashville boasts a 6-1-0 record with a tie in its eight all- time trips to Western New York.