They squandered that opportunity by dropping a 4-1 decision to the Sabres in a game that was highlighted by uninspired play by the Predators.
Mike Fisher staked the Predators to a 1-0 lead on the power play off a beautiful pass from James Neal. Neal's pass was backwards and through his legs to Fisher, who was wide open at the side of the net. Fisher's wrist shot beat Chad Johnson cleanly for his second goal in as many games.
Juuse Saros got the start, his first in the NHL, as Carter Hutton was injured and unable to play. Saros kept the Sabres off the board in the first period and the Predators went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
The Predators looked to have taken a 2-0 lead, but an awfully weak goaltender interference call against Viktor Arvidsson negated a goal.
Arvidsson would figure prominently in the game as he was called for a 5 minute major for cross checking and a game misconduct later in the second. On the ensuing power play, Jamie McGinn and Sam Reinhart would score to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead going into the third.
Reinhart would tally again and Ryan O'Reilly would score to make it 4-1. The Predators never seriously threatened Johnson after Fisher's goal and they would flop on home ice, continuing their trend of poor play that has seen the slump grow worrisome to Predator fans.
- Juuse Saros was generally good in net, although the third goal he let in was a bit soft. it appeared that it was kicked in off his skate on a shot that was stoppable. Otherwise, Saros looked positionally sound and tracked the puck well.
- The goaltender interference call against Arvidsson was weak and embarrassing for the League. if a play is driving the net and shoved into the goaltender, which Arvidsson was, then goaltender interference, in my opinion, cannot be called. That was a huge momentum swing in this game.
- I like Arvidsson, but has to get stronger if he is going to stick in the NHL. He gets knocked off the puck easily and loses a lot of puck battles. This is a man's league and Arvidsson is going to have to get man strong if he is going to make it in this League.
- The cross check call against Arvidsson really hurt the momentum of the team. That is a penalty that cannot happen, no matter how heated the play is at the moment.
- The Predators are playing, at best, some very average hockey right now. The forwards are not creating and the offense is very predictable. The puck is more often than not going back to the point and a lot of shots are not getting through. When shots do get through, there is no traffic in front of the net. Until the offense gets more energized and less predictable, the results are going to be predictable, and they will not be good.
- The absence of several key forwards, notably Colin Wilson and including Filip Forsberg and Craig Smith, have hurt this team. The Predators are not getting consistent production out of these key players and it has hurt the offensive output. Until these guys start producing consistently, this team will continue to struggle.
- Craig Smith skated in his 300th game.
- Back to Arvidsson for a moment. he cross checked Carlo Calaiacovo and was given the major and game misconduct. It was reported that Calaiacovo had a dented trachea after the game. It remains to be seen if Arvidsson will have a hearing with the NHL for this hit.
- Mike Fisher is one of the few Predators that has brought it recently. He now has a goal in three straight games.
- Roman Josi led the Predators in TOI with 25:36.
Until that turns around and the Predators elevate their game, the struggles will continue.
My three stars:
1. Sam Reinhart
2. Chad Johnson
3. Mike Fisher