For the Nashville Predators
, the timing of Blake Geoffrion
's first NHL hat trick couldn't have been any better.
Or more dramatic.
The rookie forward scored three goals, including two 1:02 apart in the final three minutes of regulation, and Martin Erat
completed the comeback 27 seconds into overtime as the Predators stormed to a 4-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabres
at HSBC Arena on Sunday.
Geoffrion, Nashville's 2006 second-round pick, has six goals in 11 games since making his NHL debut last month. He has provided a spark to a defensive-minded squad that is one of three teams -- joining Ottawa and Phoenix -- without a 20-goal scorer this season.
"It was awesome to get the win. That's the main thing," Geoffrion said, before relaying a joke he heard from teammate Shane O'Brien. "Like O.B. said, 'It's about time I did something."'
set up the winning goal, sending a pass from the left circle to Erat, who scored into the open right side of the net. That gave the Predators just their third road win in 11 games (3-6-2).
The Predators are 7-2-2 in their past 11 games and have moved into a fifth-place tie with Los Angeles in the tight Western Conference. Only three points separated fifth and 10th places at the start of play Sunday.
"It's a great comeback," Erat said. "It's a great feeling. But the game is over and we have to focus on the next one."
Tim Connolly, Nathan Gerbe
and Tyler Ennis
scored second-period goals for the Sabres, who are trying to maintain their hold on an Eastern Conference playoff position. Eighth-place Buffalo is three points ahead of ninth-place Carolina.
The Sabres dropped to 19-3-2 in games in which they led after two periods.
Buffalo seemed to be in control after a three-goal second period that included scores by Gerbe and Connolly 42 seconds apart. Nashville was outshot 17-10 in the period and managed just one shot on goal in the final 10:35.
"It's stunning," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "When you get up by two, and you've got a couple minutes left and you give up a point, that one really hurts. It was a quiet room walking in there."
Geoffrion cut the Sabres' lead to 3-2 with 2:27 left in regulation when he capitalized on Andrej Sekera
's turnover at the side of the Buffalo net and jammed the puck inside the right post.
Geoffrion tied it 62 seconds later, just as the Predators pulled goalie Anders Lindback
for an extra attacker. Geoffrion won a faceoff to the right of the Sabres net, and Nashville worked the puck back to Cody Franson, who fired a shot from the right point that was deflected by Geoffrion and handcuffed goalie Ryan Miller
Miller was sharp in keeping the game tied. He got his blocker out to foil Sergei Kostitsyn
's shot from the slot with 23 seconds left.
Lindback stopped 35 shots for the win in his first appearance since Feb. 7. Lindback got the start in place of Pekka Rinne
, who got a rest after starting the previous 20 games, including a 3-1 home win over Detroit on Saturday night.
Though shaky at times, Lindback kept the Predators in the game. His best save came with 7:25 left in regulation when he kicked his pad out to stop Thomas Vanek
"It's not the way we want to lose a point," Vanek said. "In a 3-1 hockey game, I had a couple of good chances and didn't put them away."
Trailing 1-0, the Sabres scored three times in the second period. Gerbe and Connolly put Buffalo ahead 2-1 by the 7:46 mark. Ennis then scored what appeared to be an insurance goal with a minute left, when he snapped a shot from the slot that glanced in off Lindback's blocker.
It was Buffalo's second consecutive three-goal second period following an 8-2 win over Atlanta on Saturday.
"We stole that one," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "It was looking pretty bleak, then all of a sudden we stayed with it."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.