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Hodgson scores to help Predators defeat Sabres

by Joe Yerdon /

BUFFALO -- The Nashville Predators ended a franchise-worst goal drought and a three-game losing streak with the help of a former Buffalo Sabres forward.

Cody Hodgson scored the decisive goal 6:29 into the second period and helped the Predators to a 3-2 win against the Sabres at First Niagara Center on Wednesday.

Hodgson made it 3-0 with his second goal of the season. He took a pass from Gabriel Bourque, who recovered a rebound from a shot by Calle Jarnkrok, and Hodgson one-timed the pass from Bourque past Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark.

"Bourque made a great play, a really sharp pass," Hodgson said. "Just the way we play our defense, they are always in the play. He made a good play to jump the wall, and allowed the guy to cough it up to the middle. Jarnkrok made a good pass down to Bourque, who made a real good pass backdoor. I just had to tap it in."

It was Hodgson's first game against the Sabres since he was waived and bought out by Buffalo on June 30. He played three and a half seasons for the Sabres and signed a one-year contract with the Predators on July 1.

"I know people always want to do well in the buildings that they're in and they came from for whatever the reason," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Cody played a good game tonight; his line factored in a big goal for us."

The Sabres (8-12-2) have lost six straight games.

Mike Fisher gave the Predators a 1-0 lead with 6:08 left in the first period. Fisher put a rebound of a Colin Wilson shot past Ullmark for his third goal of the season.

"Knew it was going to come; just a matter of time," Fisher said. "Definitely feels good to get the first one and get a lead. Really didn't have a great first period either. We were due for bounces and we got a few. Luckily it was enough, because they were coming pretty hard at the end."

Fisher's goal was the Predators first goal since Nov. 17 and ended their franchise-record scoreless streak which included three straight shutouts at 227:39

"I don't think our guys were in panic to score goals," Laviolette said. "I mean, we didn't score any, but like I said, I'm a pretty honest guy; I'll tell you how the first period was tonight and I'll tell you the second period was better. But the games that we played, we did the right things and it didn't go in for us, so we move on. Our guys are confident that we're going to score goals. We weren't going to get shut out the rest of the year; that would be impossible. … At some point we're going to score a goal. I think there's just a lot of confidence in our guys that they're going to score. They do the right things, they put the puck at the net; it's going to go in."

The Predators (12-6-3) were outshot in the first period 11-4 and were 32-20 overall. The Sabres led the Predators in shots attempted 65-37. In the three previous games, they had 203 shot attempts.

"We've played some great games and lost, haven't played some good games and won," Fisher said. "I haven't seen it like this in a long time. We needed a win bad."

Sabres forward Evander Kane made it 3-1 with his second goal of the season with 1:38 left in the second period, and Jack Eichel made it 3-2 with 1:19 left in the third period with his seventh goal of the season.

"We're playing well, but then we're shooting ourselves in the foot," Kane said. "It's OK to have a breakdown or two here or there where they get a chance and it doesn't cost you. But we're giving up 3-on-1s … they have a guy wide open on the back door for an empty net. Those are the kind of things that we can't have happen."

Craig Smith gave the Predators a 2-0 lead with his fifth goal of the season 55 seconds into the second period. Smith took a pass from defenseman Mattias Ekholm on a 3-on-1 into the zone against Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges and took a wrist shot that went off the post past Ullmark.

"That's a frustrating loss because we were prepared for tonight's game," Gorges said. "We came ready to play. We did a lot of good things, especially in the first period. But that just goes to show you have to be ready every shift. We make some mistakes that cost us goals when we're controlling plays."

Ullmark was replaced by Chad Johnson after Hodgson's goal made it 3-0. Ullmark made five saves on eight shots; Johnson made 12.

Predators goalie Carter Hutton made 30 saves in his third start of the season, first since Nov. 1.

"The first goal I didn't like but it's one of those things; I think the more I play and get into a rhythm those things will disappear," Hutton said. "It's hard when you don't play in three weeks and you get in there and play. Buffalo's a good hockey team, they've got a lot of speed and they're coming. I thought we did a good job though. We gave up some chances but they were a lot of perimeter stuff. ... Our offense broke out and it was just a matter of time. We put up three and were able to hold on and win the game."

Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons returned to the lineup after he missed four games with an upper-body injury. Sabres forward Tyler Ennis missed the game with an upper-body injury. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said there was no timetable for Ennis' injury and he'll be evaluated further.

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