Nashville Predators: Shorthanded Predators outduel the Sabres

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 13: Kevin Fiala
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 13: Kevin Fiala /

The shorthanded Nashville Predators outlasted the Buffalo Sabres last night in Bridgestone Arena, ending the home-stand with a two-game win streak.

Early on this season, the Nashville Predators have been struck with the injury bug. That hasn’t seemed to hinder this squad though, as they have pulled off two straight victories in Bridgestone Arena, including a 2-1 win last night against the Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres have been a surprise team so far this season in the NHL. After having the first pick in the draft this season, the Sabres had jumped out to a 17-7-3 record until last night. Going into last week, the Sabres were red hot, winning 10 straight games and jumping out to first place in the Atlantic Division. But after their loss last night against the Predators, they are currently in a three-game losing streak.

Game Recap

The Predators needed a great game from their healthy players last night, and they got just that. It was a matchup between former teammates, as Pekka Rinne and Carter Hutton were opposite of each other in net.

The Predators jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the first period, thanks to a power-play goal from Ryan Ellis. Ellis was able to absolutely blast a shot by Hutton to give the Predators the lead.

The Sabres tied the game up just five minutes into the second period on a fluke goal from Sam Reinhart. The puck scrambled behind Rinne before it was kicked in by Roman Josi.

Kevin Fiala was able to give the Nashville Predators the lead again, scoring a goal in his second straight game late in the second period.

Rinne looked outstanding all night long, saving 21 of the 22 shots he faced, which was good for a .955 save percentage.

Why this win is big

The Predators are shorthanded and there’s no doubt about that. They are down four of their best players, which includes two first line guys in Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg, second line center Kyle Turris, and P.K. Subban, one of the best defensemen in the league.

The thing about the Predators that continues to impress is their depth. Despite missing four of their best players, they were still able to get a big win against a young, good Sabres team.

The Predators have been looking for production from Fiala all year long, and he has shown up for them in the last couple of games. Three of his five goals on the season have come in the last four games, including one last night and another on Saturday night against the Blackhawks. Fiala also picked up an assist against the Blackhawks on Ryan Johansen’s goal.

When the Predators have players go down, they have other key players that can fill in for them, and we’ve seen that throughout this season so far. When Rinne suffered an injury, Juuse Saros shined. Now that four key players are down, other key players like Rinne, Fiala, Johansen, and Craig Smith have stepped up in these moments.

While the Predators seem to have guys step up when they are struck with injuries, I’m sure everybody is looking forward to the day that the roster is fully healthy. When this roster is fully healthy, the rest of the NHL needs to watch out.