NASHVILLE – A home team finally broke through in a game between the Buffalo Sabres and Nashville Predators.
A six-game winning streak by the visitors in the series came to an end Monday as the Predators handed the Sabres a 2-1 defeat in Bridgestone Arena. Kevin Fiala's snapshot from the left circle with 3:26 left in the second period snapped a tie and proved to be the game-winning goal.
Buffalo had won its last three trips to the Music City while Nashville has won three straight in KeyBank Center. The last win by a home team had come on March 21, 2015, when the Predators blanked Buffalo here, 3-0.
The Sabres concluded their road trip with an 0-2-1 record, a big downer in the immediate wake of their 10-game winning streak. That run tied the franchise record but it ended with Thursday's 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay. The Sabres then dropped a 3-2 overtime decision Friday at Florida before striking the wrong tune in the Music City.
Opening salvo: The Predators opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 16:25 of the first period as defenseman Ryan Ellis pounded home a one-timer from the left circle off a Roman Josi pass.
Own-goal: The Sabres tied the game at 5:20 of the second period on a goal by Sam Reinhart, who got credit for an own-goal by Nashville's Josi. The Predators' defenseman whirled and tipped the puck past goalie Pekka Rinne on the backhand after Jack Eichel and Reinhart had attempts on the edge of the crease. Because of the own goal, there were no assists on the play.
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) December 4, 2018
Back in front: Fiala put the Preds on top late in the second period with a wicked snapshot from the left circle that appeared to deflect off Casey Nelson and change direction past Carter Hutton.
"It was going gloveside, redirected, hit the ice and went blocker side," Hutton said. "Just a bad bounce. It happens."
Big Nashville numbers: The Predators are 15-1 this season when scoring first and leading after two periods. They improved to 8-0 against Eastern Conference teams (4-0 against both the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions).
Little Buffalo numbers: The Sabres were outshot in the game, 25-22, and managed just three shots on goal in the third period until pulling Hutton for an extra attacker in the final minute and getting five more. They combined for just 46 shots on goal over the final two games of the trip.
"You saw their experience and how they kind of shut everything down and made it hard for us to get pucks in behind them," Reinhart said. "We need to figure out when teams do that how to generate more and generate speed on
the puck and simplify it."
Special teams report: The Predators were 1 for 2 on the power play while Buffalo was 0-4. The Sabres were just 1 for 10 on the man advantage in the three games and only 7 for 11 on the penalty kill.
The standings update: Tampa Bay (20-7-1) improved to 41 points with its 5-1 pounding of New Jersey. The Predators pushed their total to 39, Toronto is at 38 and idle Colorado remained tied with the Sabres at 37.
Next: Here they come -- with all their fans in tow. The Maple Leafs (19-8) will be in KeyBank Center Tuesday night in the first meeting of the season between the two Atlantic Division rivals. It's an NBC Sports Network game that faces off shortly after 7:30 p.m.