Although the Sabres looked a little more lively, it wasn’t enough to add a win to their season record. Buffalo has now dropped eight straight games and continue to fall to 31-39-10 this season.
Nashville opened up the scoring not even halfway through the first period. P.K. Subban shot the puck from the blue line which was deflected by Craig Smith past Carter Hutton in front of the net. Kyle Okposo tied the game with Pekka Rinne out of the net, about 4 minutes remaining in the period — his 13th of the season. Rasmus Ristolainen, who returned to the lineup after being sick, had the assist, marking 35th of the season. He is currently in the top ten amongst defensemen in the Eastern Conference for assists.
It wouldn’t be long before the Predators regained the lead — 44 seconds into the second period to be exact. P.K. Subban shot the puck past Hutton, uncontested, after a turnover from Rasmus Dahlin. It looked as though Conor Sheary scored in the second period. Officials called no goal was disallowed due to a delayed penalty when nobody on the Predators had control of the puck. After the call, Buffalo had a chance to back it up during a power play. While they applied some pressure, it was short-lived, and even when they were given another chance a few minutes later, on a four-minute power play the Sabres failed to make the right moves. Buffalo would, eventually, end the period on a good note though, Jeff Skinner got his career-best 38th goal — and first goal in nine games, scored with just 5.1 seconds left in the second.
Unfortunately, Skinner’s goal was not enough to motivate the Sabres to victory. Ryan Johansen sealed the victory for Nashville in the third period, backhanding the puck over Hutton’s shoulder.
This 3-2 win brings the Predators to their 45th, the fifth time in 10 years they have reached this milestone. Rinne stopped 26 shots and Hutton finished the night with 32 saves. The Predators outshot the Sabres 35-28, and are now tied for first place in the Central Division with the Winnipeg Jets.
Buffalo will play its final home game at KeyBank Center on Thursday against the Ottawa Senators at 7 p.m.