One of the goals for the Buffalo Sabres entering Tuesday’s game against the Nashville Predators: score. a. goal. It may sound simple, but after scoring just one goal in the two weekend games - including being shut out by the Blue Jackets Sunday - the Sabres needed to hit the back of the net.
They got a couple of goals, but in the end, also got their eighth straight loss.
Just under nine minutes into the game, the Predators took a 1-0 lead. P.K. Subban took a shot from the blue line that was deflected by Craig Smith in front of the net. The play was reviewed for a possible high stick, but it was ruled a good goal, marking Smith’s 21st of the season.
The Sabres finally got their first goal in 82:36 of hockey when Kyle Okposo slapped in a rebound in front of the net. Rasmus Ristolainen’s shot from the point hit Evan Rodrigues on the side of the net; the puck popped loose, and with Pekka Rinne pressed against the post, Okposo was able to jump on it.
Ohhhh yeah!— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 2, 2019
Okposo scores and we're tied up! pic.twitter.com/lYpqZkP1k5
Ristolainen’s assist was his 35th of the season, matching his total from last season. He’s top-ten in the Eastern Conference among defensemen in assists.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad first period for the Sabres, and certainly an improvement over the last two games. Buffalo and Nashville capped off twenty minutes tied at one, with shots 8-6 in the Predators’ favor. Jack Eichel led the Sabres in ice time in the first period after playing 7:59.
Nashville regained their lead early in the second period.
Rasmus Dahlin was carrying the puck up into the zone, and a misstep left the puck open for Subban. Following the turnover, Subban then skated the puck down the ice uncontested and blasted the puck past Carter Hutton.
That goal, which came just 44 seconds into the middle frame, would be the only one until the dying seconds of the period.
Okposo put a shot from the point toward the net; the puck bounced around behind the net and came out on the other side to Jeff Skinner’s stick. Thanks to some good work down low, Skinner had Rinne down and was able to capitalize on the wide open net.
Skinner’s 38th goal of the season - which marks a new career-high for the Sabres forward - came with just 5.1 seconds left in the period, providing a needed boost and extra momentum for Buffalo heading into the third.
Unfortunately for the Sabres, they couldn’t provide a complete effort in the third period. Ryan Johansen picked up the puck off the wall on his backhand and took advantage of a diving Ristolainen, shooting it over the shoulder of Hutton to make it a 3-2 game.
In the end, Johansen’s goal would turn out to be the game-winner.
The Sabres were outshot 35-28 and went 0-for-3 on the power play in what became their eighth consecutive loss. The team’s last win came on March 17.
There are now two games remaining in the regular season; Buffalo will play its home finale at KeyBank Center on Thursday against Ottawa before traveling to Detroit on Saturday night.