The Sabres played their fourth game in six nights when they travelled to the Music City for their second game against the Predators in four days. Before the game former Sabre, Nashville assistant, and recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Phil Housley was honored by Nashville for his induction. Housley did a ceremonial puck drop with Shea Weber and Brian Gionta.
Buffalo started the period absolutely looking like a team that was playing their fourth game in six nights with the Predators dominating possession and play. Nasvhille’s Corsi was a 69% by the end of the first. Chad Johnson kept the Sabres in it making a lot of nice saves with the Sabres getting outshot 13-9 in the first.
The Sabres had an early power play thanks to Craig Smith taking a delay of game penalty but didn’t do much on it. Nashville went on the power play 11:38 in when the refs called Reinhart for a pretty weak-tripping call. Mike Fisher scored on the power play, off a beautiful behind the back pass from James Neal to put Nashville up 1-0.
Just a minute or so into the 2nd Viktor Arvidsson scored what looked like Nashville’s second of the game. The goal was called back though when it was determined by the refs that former Sabre Cody Hodgson interfered with Chad Johnson.
Midway through the second Buffalo killed off a Zemgus Girgensons holding penalty to stay within one. Two minutes later the game changed with Carlo Colaiacovo getting viciously crosschecked in the face by Viktor Arvidsson. Colaiacovo left the ice for the game with a dented trachea and Arvidsson got a five-minute major and plus a ten minute major getting ejected for his actions.
Buffalo took advantage of this big time with the Sabres scoring twice to take the lead. The first goal was scored during a scramble in front after Cody Franson put the puck on net which and Jamie McGinn was able to tip in after a shot from Ryan O’Reilly.
The second goal of the game came from nice passing along the boards. Evander Kane fed Matt Moulson on the right side who dished it to Sam Reinhart at the top of the point. Reinhart ripped a wrist shot top right on Saros to put Buffalo up 2-1. Buffalo finished the period outshooting Nashville 10-7.
Just 58 seconds into the third Nashville left Reinhart alone in front who spun from the left side of Saros to his right and shot a puck low that squeaked underneath Saros who accidently kicked it into his own net to give Buffalo a 3-1 lead.
Buffalo controlled the rest of period from there out and not allowing the Predators to get many opportunities to score. With just over nine minutes left Cody Franson took a cross checking penalty on Nasvhille’s Mike Fisher, but Ristolaianen, O’Reilly, and the other penalty killers did a good job shutting the Predators power play down.
Nashville pulled the goalie with around three to go in the period, but Evander Kane was able to get the puck up to Ryan O’Reilly who finished off the game on an empty net goal to give Buffalo a 4-1 victory.
Overall it was a good effort and win by the Sabres after playing the previous night. They started slow, but converted when it mattered and controlled the majority of the last 30 minutes. Evander Kane was all over the place tonight finished the game with a Corsi of almost 55%.
You can see when Kane or O’Reilly are on the ice how the puck just sticks around both of them and they drive possession very well into the opponents end. That is major improvement from last years Sabres team that couldn’t keep the puck on a regular basis if their life depended on it. It is really hard to find anything too negative tonight and you’ll see both of my Two Bad comments are non-Sabre player gripes.
Buffalo is back in action in Detroit on Tuesday December 1st.
Sam Reinhart- He was all over the ice tonight. It was not just his scoring that was impressive, but even his back checking and defensive play is such an upgrade for him compared to even earlier this season. Reinhart is very cerebral when he plays and seems to have a knack for finding the right place at the right time. His goal in the 3rd was one of those kind of plays where he quietly moved in front and made the opportunity happen.
Josh Gorges- Other then the first goal which Gorges lost coverage on Fisher thanks to an amazing pass by Neal, Gorges was dynamite for the Sabres. He was a calming force on defense making smart plays to keep the Predators from getting many chances. Gorges also did a good job on the power play to keep the puck in the zone. This type of veteran presence has helped the Sabres young defense and allowed them to have a mentor to teach them in Gorges.
Cheap Shots- Carlo Coolaiacovo had to go to the hospital with a dented trachea thanks to the cheap shot by Viktor Arvidsson. As a fan of hockey in general, these types of hits are frightening. Hopefully Arvidsson see’s a nice 10 game suspension at minimum because at some point one of these hit’s will kill someone. That type of hockey has to be eliminated for the safety of players and image of the sport.
Video Review- The Predators disallowed goal at the beginning of the second saw another lengthy review by the league. I think everyone is fine with getting the call right, but the amount of time needed to do the reviews needs to be condensed. The energy in the building just get’s sucked right out when these kind of reviews happen and the arena staff have to try their best to keep things alive. It’s a minor thing but something that could improve the fan experience if the league could find some way to streamline this a little more.