NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Sabres sealed their second straight victory Saturday night when the puck bounced off the skate of a referee and onto the stick of Ryan O'Reilly for an open-net goal. A Nashville player tried to talk to the official, but he raised both arms in a shrug as if to say, "Hey, what can you do? Bounces happen."
Those bounces are finally starting to go Buffalo's way.
The previously snake-bit club is enjoying life on the other side of the caroms. A 4-1 victory over Nashville followed Friday's 4-1 win over Carolina, giving the Sabres eight goals in two games. They had totaled just seven goals in the previous six contests.
"For us to score goals now and get rewarded for the hard work we're putting in in the last bunch of games here, it's nice to see the guys have some smiles on their face and to know that we're getting rewarded," goaltender Chad Johnson said. "We're getting the bounces now and we're getting the puck in the net, so that's going to lead to wins."
The Sabres have won two straight to improve to 10-12-2 heading into Tuesday's game against Detroit. They were averaging 2.0 goals per game when the puck dropped Friday against the Hurricanes, and the average is up to 2.2 now.
There's obviously room to go higher, and the Sabres finally feel like it will since they can now fill the net.
"It's confidence booster," forward Jamie McGinn said. "That's exactly what we needed. We went through a stretch there where we scored only one goal or two. We needed those breakout games and win by more than one goal.
"We feel good in here right now."
Aside from O'Reilly's empty-netter with 2:13 remaining, three other plays showed the Sabres' luck is changing:
*Nashville thought it took a 2-0 lead early in the second period, but the officials waved off the goal because of goaltender interference. Predators coach Peter Laviolette challenged the ruling, but replays confirmed the officials' call. The Sabres have had three goals wiped out by challenges, so they enjoyed seeing a call go in their favor.
*McGinn pulled the Sabres into a 1-1 tie when he batted a floating puck near the goal line into the net in front of a Predators defender who was also trying to whack it.
*Sam Reinhart's second goal of the night put Buffalo in front, 3-1, with 58 seconds gone in the third period. Nashville goaltender Juuse Saros stopped the rookie's shot, but the puck somehow got caught on Saros' skate and rolled into the net when the goalie spun.
Those plays didn't happen as the Sabres fired away and came up empty during most games. Buffalo is 5-7-1 when outshooting opponents, including Saturday's victory.
"It's easy to get frustrated in situations like that, but we knew our bounces were going to come in bunches like that," Reinhart said. "We're looking to keep that rolling."
McGinn's goal and Reinhart's first came during a five-minute power play for the Sabres. The Predators' Viktor Arvidsson cross-checked Carlo Colaiacovo in the throat, hospitalizing the defenseman and opening the door for Buffalo to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead in the second period.
"That was obviously a huge turning point for us," O'Reilly said. "To get that power play and just to get a couple shots on net, get a couple scoring opportunities gave us life. We buried the one, and it was the spark we needed. The second one obviously gave us control of the game. We had momentum and played good from there."
Colaiacovo was still in the hospital when the Sabres left Bridgestone Arena.
"Carlo's doing OK," coach Dan Bylsma said. "He got the cross-check to the throat. He did go to the hospital, is there now. I guess they're saying he's got a dented trachea right now but OK.
"I don't think there was intent there to maliciously cross-check, but they kind of lose the puck, turn and his stick is right at that level and delivers a blow. When you look at it, it's a pretty stiff cross-check to Carlo's neck."