Preds Met Sabres: Sabres Slip Past Preds 1-0
By Buddy Oakes
In a game not as close as the score indicated, the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Nashville Predators 1-0, at the Sommet Center.
The only goal of the game came with 3:25 left in the final period. Mike Greer backhanded a loose puck through several players in the slot, from 15 feet out. Amazingly the puck found the net.
Preds goalie Pekka Rinne had been perfect to that point, stopping the first 41 shots Buffalo put on net. Pekka was asked if he saw the shot, "Yes, but a half a second late. He [Greer] just whacked the puck, and it was by me before I even knew it. There was a lot of traffic in front of me."
Buffalo pressed the puck down the ice from the first face-off and kept pressure on the Preds defence for the entire game. They outshot the Predators 42 to 25 and created traffic in front of the Preds net, which kept Preds goalie Pekka Rinne on his toes the whole evening.
Rinne explained how the Sabres were effective in creating so much pressure, "They bring another D-man up, so they come four guys all the time. They shoot from everywhere, they create rebounds and second chances and that's their game."
Captain Jason Arnott was critical of the Pred's play, “The only guy playing tonight was Peks for us. It could have been 10-0 easily. You’ve got to hand it to Peks. He really stood out tonight for us, he kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win and we just couldn’t bury it to give him that win.
Arnott emphasized responsibility for the loss on the Preds, "Not so much what they were doing but what we weren't doing, just attacking and being aggressive like we usually are, we weren't going to the net as we usually do and little things like that."
Looking to next week, when the Preds have four games in six nights Arnott said, "We have got to concentrate on crashing the net a little bit more. Tonight we didn't go to the net as well as we had in the first two games and that creates goals for us. I think if we do that and crack down on the defensive end and we know now that Peks is going to be there for us, so if we do that we will come up with some wins."
Joel Ward made his season debut, skating a full 20 shifts and logging 15:50 of ice time. When asked how he felt being back Ward said, "I was a little nervous at first, but as the game went along I was starting to calm down and get a little better trying to make smart plays and eliminate mistakes. I need to keep progressing and elevate my game so I can really contribute to this hockey club."
Barry Trotz commented on Buffalo's play, "I give them a lot of credit, they were on. They really pressured on their D. They put a lot of pucks on net and in the crease area they drove the net really hard. They had four lines that were really buzzing. They were better than us tonight. I'm not making any excuses."
Trotz indicated that about the middle of the second period he started to feel that the first puck in would be the winner. "You knew it was going to be a 1-0 game, you just didn't know if it would be regulation or overtime."
The Predators return to the ice Monday night against Edmonton. Barry Trotz gave no indication who would be the net-minder, "Both goaltenders are playing extremely well. I can't make a bad choice now."
There does appear to be a chance that J.P. Dumont may return on Monday. Trotz said, "There's a chance, J P. felt much better and I think he's going skate tomorrow so there might be a chance for Monday. He would be the closest one to coming back."
After taking the first loss of the season, the Predators are now 2-1 and face a grueling six-day stretch where they play four games in six nights. After Monday's home game with Edmonton, they travel to Dallas for a game Wednesday, come home to play Chicago on Thursday, then finish the week on Saturday with a game in D.C. against the Capitals.