When the Buffalo Sabres’ offense needed to come through, they went to sleep and could not get any chances.
The Sabres took an early lead on Tuesday night, but only to let the lead fade away again as the Sabres fell 4-1 to the Nashville Predators at the First Niagara Center.
When down 3-1 in the third period, Buffalo was only able to put up one shot on goal in the final ten minutes of the game. The Sabres played a better defensive game on Tuesday, but when you play better defensively, the offense can tend to back off.
“We talked about how many shots the opposition was getting. At least we cut down our shot total tonight. When you cut down your shot total, sometimes you back off offensively,” interim head coach Ted Nolan said following the loss. “There was only one line basically going, and you’re not gonna win too many games doing that.”
Drew Stafford got Buffalo on the board just 2:09 into the first period. Stafford finished the night with a team-high five shots in 23-minutes of total ice-time. Stafford did see some positives in the team’s play tonight, even though they could not puck anymore pucks in the back of the net.
“We had some good zone time and good possession time,” Stafford said. “[Nashville] played the neutral zone pretty good. We were able to break through a couple time and get some good chances, but you gotta give them credit. Their goalie made some pretty good saves.”
For Stafford, Tuesday night was his 500th career game played in the National Hockey League, all of which with the Sabres. For Stafford, he feels as though he has a lot left in the tank.
“It’s quite an accomplishment. I never really realized it until a few games ago when a couple guys were saying some things,” Stafford said. “I thank a lot of the guys I played with, the training staff here, the different coaches. I kind of a ‘glass half full’ type of guy, so I feel like I have a lot more to go and I’m still ascending. Hopefully we can finish off strong.”
Matt Ellis also hit a milestone on Tuesday by playing in his 300th career NHL game. Ellis finished the night a minus-1 with one shot in 5:33 of total ice-time.
Jhonas Enroth stopped 21 of 24 saves in the losing effort. Enroth knows his team needs to battle harder.
“I think we didn’t really battle that hard, we gotta battle harder,” Enroth said. “We gotta really dig in, and that’s how we’re gonna earn points in this league.”
In Paul Gaustad’s return to Buffalo, he scored an empty-net goal, had three hits and 17-minute in penalties. This was Gaustad’s first game in Buffalo since he was traded to Nashville on February 27, 2012.
The Sabres have 17 games left in the regular season with 12 of those games on the road. The Sabres are 7-19-3 on the road this year, and have lost five of their last six road games.
Up next for Buffalo is a trip to Carolina on Thursday night for a game against the Hurricanes. Opening face-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.