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game recap

Predators tie for first in Central, defeat Sabres

Pull even with Jets, Johansen scores game-winner in third period

by Heather Engel / Correspondent

Johansen's go-ahead goal

NSH@BUF: Johansen roofs backhand shot over Hutton

Ryan Johansen finds a carom off the end boards and quickly backhands a shot past Carter Hutton to give the Predators a 3-2 lead in the 3rd

  • 00:53 •

BUFFALO -- The Nashville Predators moved into a tie for first place in the Central Division with a 3-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Tuesday.

The Predators (45-29-6) pulled even with the Winnipeg Jets, who lost 5-1 at the Minnesota Wild. Nashville and Winnipeg, each with two games remaining, are two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues, who have three games left.

"We'd like to obviously get home-ice advantage, that's huge," Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said. "I mean we love to play at Bridgestone [Arena] in front of our fans. That would be awesome. But we've got to take one game at a time. I saw Winnipeg was losing to Minnesota as well. That changes things too.

"From now on, if we take care of our games, I think we can be in a very good spot."


[WATCH: All Predators vs. Sabres highlights]


Jeff Skinner scored his NHL career-high 38th goal for Buffalo (31-39-10), which lost a season-high eighth straight game.

"I thought we played better than we have in a little while," Sabres forward Kyle Okposo said. "I liked our game, for the most part. They're a good hockey team over there. I thought that we did a lot of good things tonight."

Ryan Johansen capitalized on a bounce off the end boards and lifted a backhand into an open net to give Nashville a 3-2 lead at 6:32 of the third period.

Video: NSH@BUF: Subban hammers slap shot past Hutton

"That was exactly our message going into the third: Just go out there and play our game and do all the little things right and do it hard, execute our details and the game will take care of itself," Johansen said. "And that's how it ended up going."

Skinner tied it 2-2 with five seconds left in the second period. Brandon Montour's shot hit the end boards and bounced to him to the left of the net. It was Skinner's second goal in 23 games.

"It's been a while, so it's nice to get a goal, [but] I think you score to win games, so it's frustrating we didn't get a win," Skinner said. "But, yeah, personally, obviously it's been a while for me. I thought our line played pretty well tonight."

Video: NSH@BUF: Rinne fights off Sheary's breakaway bid

Smith gave Nashville a 1-0 lead when he screened Carter Hutton and tipped in P.K. Subban's shot from the blue line at 8:49 of the first period. The goal was reviewed but it could not be determined if Smith touched the puck with a high stick.

Okposo got a stick on a rebound in front to tie it 1-1 at 16:04.

Subban put the Predators up 2-1 44 seconds into the second period. The defenseman knocked down Rasmus Dahlin's attempt to bring the puck into the Nashville zone and went the other way before scoring from the top of the right circle.

Video: NSH@BUF: Skinner puts home carom off end boards


They said it

"I'm actually happy that all these games matter and all these games have a lot of meaning. It's not just we come and play these last games to get it done with. We have a lot on the table, and that's the best part of it, and it's going to prepare us for the playoffs." -- Predators goalie Pekka Rinne

"We talked about these last two home games, and the guys brought it tonight, and we need that emotion and we need that passion on Thursday (against the Ottawa Senators). They should be [ticked] off. We're all [ticked] off. But we have to, again, garner that and bring that same effort, because if we play like that, we're going to win." -- Sabres coach Phil Housley


Need to know

Nashville has won eight straight games at Buffalo, dating to Dec. 1, 2008, and has held the Sabres to two goals or fewer in six of those games. ... Subban has five points (two goals, three assists) in a three-game point streak. ... Skinner's goal tied him with Gilbert Perreault (1970-71) and Ray Sheppard (1987-88) for third-most scored by a first-year Sabres player. Skinner scored 37 goals for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2016-17. ... Rasmus Ristolainen, with an assist on Okposo's goal, became the fourth defenseman in Sabres history to reach 40 points in at least four consecutive seasons (five goals, 35 assists this season). ... Nashville would lose the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker (ROW) to Winnipeg (44-41 after Tuesday).


What's next

Predators: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, FS-TN, SNP, NHL.TV)

Sabres: Host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, MSG-B, RDS2, TSN5, NHL.TV)

Video: Subban, Johansen pace Predators past Sabres, 3-2

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