Nashville Predators 3, Buffalo Sabres 5: Preds fumble human game from Saros

Saros had an off night, and the team couldn’t recover in front of him.

The Nashville Predators returned home after a road trip that started great and ended poorly,  to face a Buffalo Sabres team also looking to recover after a loss. Alexandre Carrier was out with an injury, and Roland McKeown got to dress again for the Preds.

The Sabres got off to a strong start, setting up in the Preds’ end and making Juuse Saros work to keep the score level. McKeown was forced to take a penalty during a sustained Sabres OZ sequence the Preds couldn’t play their way out of, but Saros and the penalty killers held strong. Unfortunately, a few minutes later, Tage Thompson set Jeff Skinner up and—in a play that seemed to unfold in slow motion—Skinner went all the way down ice and faked out Saros to score.

Buffalo continued to pressure until Ilya Lyubushkin elbowed Jusso Pärssinen with just over five minutes left in the period. While the Sabres threatened shorthanded, the Preds were able to get the puck back and Roman Josi scored to tie the game 1-1.

Cole Smith collided with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen just outside the Sabres’ crease, sending Luukkonen spinning down to the ice without his stick. Smith was called for goalie interference, and the Sabres got another chance on the power play, with Luukkonen eventually making his way back up behind the play. The Preds were able to kill off that penalty as well, and the teams headed to intermission still tied.

That didn’t last long, as Dylan Cozens scored early in the second to give the Sabres the lead again. The Predators finally managed to start pushing back, and almost managed to tie the game with a little over seven minutes elapsed; however, a review determined that while the puck did cross the line, it and Luukkonen were pushed in together.

Filip Forsberg then slashed Skinner’s stick out of his hands, breaking his own stick in the process and giving the Sabres yet another power play. Victor Olofsson scored almost immediately to extend the Sabres’ lead to 3-1. While the Sabres continued to press for a while, the Preds slowly got their skates back under them.

With under five minutes left in the period, Jeremy Lauzon took advantage of a turnover by Owen Power to bring the Preds back within one, and forty seconds later Ryan Johansen tied it. Nashville then got another power play of their own as Lyubushkin took his second penalty of the night against Pärssinen, though it was almost canceled out by some hostilities along the board immediately after.

The Sabres’ penalty kill managed to negate the penalty, and with 12.5 seconds left in the period Josi tripped Skinner and was sent off to the box. The Preds were able to kill that penalty, but the Sabres again got out to a good start. Tyson Jost was called for slashing, but Kyle Okposo scored shorthanded to give the Sabres a 4-3 lead at 6:43 of the third. Thomson almost added a second shorthanded goal on the same power play, but the Predators were able to escape without further damage.

In spite of that, the Preds couldn’t get anything going offensively, even down late after a disappointing goal. Jack Quinn scored with just over three minutes left in the third to extend the Sabres’ lead. The Preds were unable to score with Saros pulled and dropped the game, 3-5.