Score: Sabres 4 | Predators 1
Shots: BUF 21 | NSH 30
Buffalo Sabres Goals: Mark Jankowski (1), Jeff Skinner (12, 13), Vinnie Hinostroza (8)
Nashville Predators Goals: Matt Duchene (17)
Plus 1: Strong Start Results In Jankowski Getting His First Goal As A Buffalo Sabre
The Sabres came out the gates ready to play in Nashville. For the majority of the first period they controlled play against one of the hottest teams in the league. Mark Jankowski was rewarded with his first goal of the season after deflecting a shot on net that eventually got knocked into the Predators net by their own defenseman. The Sabres applied a solid offensive zone pressure throughout the period resulting in multiple quality scoring chances.
Minus 1: Penalty Troubles In the Second Period Allow Predators To Capitalize
The Predators dictated the majority of play right from the start of the second period. The Sabres were fortunate to have a goal against disallowed due to an off-sides. They were later punished on the penalty kill when Matt Duchene knocked in a loose puck during a scramble in front of the net. Coming into the game the Predators had a top 5 power-play, so giving them multiple opportunities on the man advantage was certainly not part of the Sabres game-plan.
I will say that the hit thrown by Aaron Dell was great to watch, and not something you see on a regular basis. He was called for interference on the play, which in my opinion is questionable, but it was good to see some push-back on his part.
Plus 2: Aaron Dell Stands Tall Throughout The Game
The Sabres goalie brought his own physicality to the game. His energy seemed to spark the rest of the team to play a heavier third period and ultimately close out the game with a win. Dell looked very good in all three periods and stopped multiple quality scoring chances.
Congrats to Aaron for his first victory as a Buffalo Sabre, which happened to come on his first NHL start as a father.
Jeff Skinner may never live up to his contract, but putting that aside, he has shown throughout this season that he can still be a very good player on a below average hockey team. He may not have blazing straight line speed, but his edge work and willingness to battle in the dirty areas has been apparent this year, and showed on the Sabres second goal of the game. Brilliant skating ability was once again shown on his second goal of the game. A beautiful spin-o-rama allowed him to get by two Nashville defensemen, one a former Norris trophy winner, where he rifled a shot that beat Juuse Saros clean.
Victor Olofsson has not looked like himself this season, and depending on the Sabres long term plans with this player may or may not be a good thing. An injury he suffered earlier in the season was said to have impacted his shot, but during this game it was stated that currently this season he only has a single power play goal. Given he will be an RFA at the end of the year the Sabres could get a nice discount on term or AAV if they intend on keeping him with the team. If not, his value is not as high as it once was, and it’s possible the Sabres could use him as a trade piece before his value drops lower depending on their thoughts on his future with the team.
Dylan Cozens had a very up and down night. He made some nice plays and was complimented by the ability of his line-mates in Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch. There were multiple times throughout the game where it looked like he made one move too many, and often lost the puck or was sprawling on the ice. It is a tall task for this talented second year player to jump into a number one center role, especially against a team like Nashville, hopefully another notch on his belt to learn from.
Alex Tuch looks great, not much to say here other than I’m thrilled he was part of the Eichel package. I can’t wait to see what he does for the team next year with a full season of play and the injection of very talented youth like Owen Power, Jack Quinn, and more.
Rasmus Dahlin was selected to be an NHL all-star which was announced prior to the game. All I can say is good for this young player with tons of untapped potential. His play has really improved as of late, and he looks to have some chemistry with Alex Tuch already. The selection to the all-star game will hopefully infuse some confidence to Dahlin who plays his best hockey when he isn’t second guessing himself.