Buffalo at Nashville

Sabres snap Predators' five-game win streak with big rout


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The best team in the Eastern Conference gave a painful reminder to the West's second-ranked team on the importance of showing up, and playing well, in every game.

Jason Pominville had two goals and an assist and Maxim Afinogenov and Ales Kotalik each scored twice to help the Buffalo Sabres snap a two-game skid with a 7-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

"We weren't ready to play, and they showed us how to play hockey," Nashville captain Kimmo Timonen said.

The teams had not played since Nov. 29, 2003, and won't play again this season unless it's in the Stanley Cup Finals. With Buffalo the top team in the Eastern Conference and Nashville second in the West, it's not an unlikely Cup preview.

"We wanted to jump on them early," Pominville said. "They have been hot lately and haven't lost much at home. Coming in, we had lost two, so we wanted to come out quick and play a complete game. And we were able to do that."

The Sabres, who outshot Nashville 36-31, scored two goals in the first five minutes and sealed the victory with three in the second, including the last two by Afinogenov. Derek Roy, Brian Campbell and Daniel Briere each had two assists.

"We let them do whatever they wanted to do," said Nashville goalie Chris Mason, who was pulled after the second period. "I'm not taking anything from them because they came to play tonight. We definitely weren't ready."

Martin Erat scored short-handed, and Jason Arnott added a power-play goal in the third as Nashville snapped a five-game winning streak by losing for the first time in six games against Eastern Conference teams.

"We knew we had to get our game together tonight since we didn't play all that well against Montreal two nights ago," Sabres goalie Martin Biron said.

The Predators used to dominate this intermittent series, winning the last four meetings. They also came in as the NHL's best team on home ice, but the Sabres are the league's best road team. They're 15-3 on the road now.

This was just the second home loss in regulation this season for Nashville, which was playing on a second consecutive night.

The Sabres took advantage with a fast start.

Kotalik scored 33 seconds into the game by deflecting a shot from Campbell, who had just kept the puck in the zone. Pominville made it 2-0 at 5:43 of the first when he squeezed a shot between Mason and the post off a pass from Briere.

Buffalo took seven of the first nine shots and had two power plays to pad the lead. Nashville finally woke up when David Legwand grabbed the puck and started a 2-on-1 that Erat finished by scoring from the left circle for a short-handed goal that made it 2-1.

The Sabres put away the game in the second.

Tony Lydman scored his first this season at 5:25 by beating Mason over his glove off a rebound of his own miss when the puck bounced right back at him. Afinogenov scored his 15th and 16th goals within three minutes, the second a one-timer from the edge of the circle at 17:45.

Nashville gave Michael Leighton his first appearance in goal for the Predators.

Arnott added his eighth from the left circle at 3:02 of third, but Nashville didn't score again. Nashville center Scott Nichol was given a game misconduct for punching Jaroslav Spacek in the jaw when he wasn't looking, starting a scrum after Spacek's stick tripped him up and sent him into the goal post at 15:21.

Spacek finally got up a couple minutes later. Kotalik and Pominville responded with a power-play goal each to finish Nashville off or as Predators coach Barry Trotz called it, "rub salt in the wounds a little bit."

Sabres forward Chris Drury called Nichol's punch a sucker punch, and Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff wasn't happy with it.

"There is no need for it in our game," he said.

Trotz defended Nichol for being upset for being what he called being"corkscrewed" but not his center's reaction.

"The referee punished him for it," Trotz said.


  • Campbell extended his assists streak to three straight games. He has five assists in the past three games.
  • Buffalo is 11-1 when leading after the first period.
  • Mason started his 14th straight game and played in his 15th straight in relief of Tomas Vokoun (thumb).
  • Nashville dropped to 7-1-1 in the second of back-to-back games this season.
Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Maxim Afinogenov (61) jumps for joy after scoring the first of two goals in a span of three minutes. (AP)
Maxim Afinogenov (61) jumps for joy after scoring the first of two goals in a span of three minutes. (AP)
Buffalo  (25-7-2) «2327
Nashville (22-9-3)1012
Three Stars
M. Afinogenov

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
M. Biron

Saves: 29
Save Pct.: .935
T. Lydman

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1

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Scoring Summary
00:33Ales Kotalik (8), Tip-In - Assist: Brian Campbell
05:43Jason Pominville (15), Wrist Shot - Assists: Daniel Briere and Jaroslav Spacek
08:57Short - Martin Erat (7), Snap Shot - Assists: David Legwand and Kimmo Timonen
05:25Toni Lydman, Tip-In - Assists: Jiri Novotny and Jason Pominville
15:18Maxim Afinogenov (15), Backhand Shot - Assists: Derek Roy and Toni Lydman
17:45Maxim Afinogenov (16), Slap Shot - Assists: Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek
03:02Power Play - Jason Arnott (8), Slap Shot - Assists: Steve Sullivan and Ryan Suter
17:03Power Play - Ales Kotalik (8), Slap Shot - Assists: Nathan Paetsch and Paul Gaustad
17:28Power Play - Jason Pominville (16), Slap Shot - Assists: Daniel Briere and Brian Campbell
Penalty Summary
06:11Suter: Elbowing - 2 min.
08:16Hartnell: Cross Check - 2 min.
10:50Mair: Elbowing - 2 min.
14:37Kotalik: Delaying Game - 2 min.
19:15Briere: Slashing - 2 min.
19:15Hartnell: Slashing - 2 min.
20:00Zidlicky: Hooking - 2 min.
02:47Mason: Interference - 2 min.
10:11Mair: Holding - 2 min.
01:10Campbell: Tripping - 2 min.
06:06Campbell: Holding - 2 min.
15:21Spacek: Interference - 2 min.
15:21Nichol: Instigator - 2 min.
15:21Nichol: Fighting - 5 min.
15:21Nichol: Gross Misconduct - 10 min.
15:21Nichol: Game Misconduct - 10 min.
Martin Biron59:56292
Michael Leighton19:4782
Chris Mason39:52215
Attendance - 16616
Game Time - 60:00
Referees - Kerry Fraser, Mike Leggo
Line Judges - Pat Dapuzzo, Mark Pare
Other Games
Pitt 3 Final
Atl 4
Van 0 Final
Bos 2
NYR 2 Final
Fla 3
TB 4 Final
Ott 2
Phi 2 Final
Mon 4
LA 2 Final
StL 5
Cal 0 PPD
Colo 0
Edm 3 Final
Pho 2
Dal 3 Final
SJ 0