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game recap

Smith, Predators deny Sabres fourth victory in row

Breaks tie in third period; Eichel point streak ends at nine for Buffalo

by Robby Stanley / Independent Correspondent

Smith tips puck home for PPG

BUF@NSH: Smith tips Turris' shot past Ullmark for PPG

Craig Smith gets good position in the slot and redirects Kyle Turris' shot past Linus Ullmark for a power-play goal and a 2-1 lead in the 3rd

  • 00:48 •

NASHVILLE -- Craig Smith broke a tie in the third period, and the Nashville Predators defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

Ryan Johansen scored, and Pekka Rinne made 30 saves for the Predators (22-18-7), who had lost two games in a row, including a 4-2 home loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.

"It feels great," Johansen said. "We didn't like our last game and really didn't want to go into the [All-Star] break without executing a good game plan. We executed a good game plan tonight. We'll go a reset the batteries a little bit, come back fresh and come back ready to work."


[WATCH: All Sabres vs. Predators highlights]


Sam Reinhart scored for the Sabres (22-20-7), who had their three-game winning streak end entering the break. Linus Ullmark made 35 saves, and Jack Eichel's point streak ended at nine games. It was the longest active point streak in the NHL.

"It was a very good hockey game," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "They definitely came out with their A-game. We expected that. They came out extremely strong on the forecheck, and we weathered that storm early and actually liked the way the game was being managed until the final 10 minutes. We had a couple of really long [defensive] zone shifts where we needed to clear them and get out of our zone. Once they felt that, they seemed to get a surge of energy." 

Video: BUF@NSH: Johansen banks shot off defender and in

Smith made it 2-1 with a power-play goal at 13:31 of the third when his redirection of a shot by Kyle Turris hit the left post and went in off Ullmark's left leg.

"I thought we played really well," Smith said. "I thought we took care of the puck. I thought we hung on to pucks, which it's hard to play against that. I thought we were able to create some opportunities off of it and easily could've had a couple more." 

Reinhart gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead at 18:58 of the first period off a cross-ice pass from Rasmus Dahlin.

Johansen tied it 1-1 at 6:05 of the second period off the rebound of Roman Josi's shot that caromed off the end boards.

"I thought [Johansen] probably played his best game that I've seen with him," Predators coach John Hynes said after his sixth game since replacing Peter Laviolette on Jan. 7. "He had a tough assignment. He was basically matched against Eichel's line all night. He was good on face-offs. I thought he moved his feet. I think he's been pretty good defensively so far since I've been with him, but I thought tonight he had more on an impact offensively too."

Buffalo did not have a shot until 12:06 of the first period.

"I thought Rinne played a very good game," Krueger said. "We didn't put much pressure on him in the first 10 minutes of the game, but from there on in we had lots of point-blank opportunities that he took care of." 


They said it

"I'm really happy with the commitment of the guys to play without the puck and to really work together as a group. Of course, every team will create chances, as we do, no matter how you play, but for us it's not the habits now or the team concept that's in doubt. It's just, once in a while, details." -- Sabres coach Ralph Krueger

"I think we needed that kind of game. It's a close game. It's a one-goal game. We came from behind and had to play good defensively, had to grind it out, had to kill some penalties. I think all the areas that we want to improve, I think we did an extremely good job. That makes everybody happy. At this point of the year, it doesn't matter how these wins come. But again, the way we played, I think it makes you feel better." -- Predators goalie Pekka Rinne


Need to know

Eichel had three shots on goal and six shot attempts in 24:22. … Josi has 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in his past 16 games.


What's next

Sabres: Host the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 28 (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, MSG-B, TSN5, RDS, NHL.TV)

Predators: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 27 (8 p.m. ET; TVAS, FS-TN, TSN4, NHL.TV)

Video: Smith, Rinne help Predators top Sabres

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