Craig Smith scored a tiebreaking power-play goal in the third period as the Nashville Predators gave new coach John Hynes his first home victory, defeating the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday night.
Ryan Johansen also scored and goaltender Pekka Rinne made 30 saves for Nashville (22-18-7), which evened its record at 3-3 since Hynes took over for the fired Peter Laviolette on Jan. 7. The Predators had lost their first two home games under Hynes.
Sam Reinhart scored for the Sabres (22-20-7) and goalie Linus Ullmark stopped 35 of 37 shots. Buffalo’s three-game winning streak, which tied for its longest of the season, came to an end.
Smith got the winner at 13:31 of the third on a deflection off a shot by Kyle Turris. Smith tipped the puck off the left post, but it bounced back in front, then off the back of Ullmark’s right leg before trickling just over the goal line.
The Sabres opened the scoring at 18:58 of the first period. Defensemen Jake McCabe and Rasmus Dahlin passed the puck back and forth along the right wing boards before Dahlin spotted a wide-open Reinhart at the far post. Reinhart settled the cross-ice pass and put a wrist shot over Rinne, who was diving across the crease in an effort to cover up.
The Predators tied it at 6:05 of the second. Defenseman Roman Josi fired a wrist shot from between the faceoff circles wide of the net, but the puck took a lively carom off the end boards and Johansen flipped a backhander in front that went off the leg of Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian and into the net.
Johansen nearly gave the Predators the lead midway through the second after Ullmark misplayed the puck behind the net and it was stolen by Nashville’s Austin Watson. He found Johansen alone out front, but Ullmark was able to scramble back into the crease and make a spectacular diving stop.
Buffalo forward Jack Eichel had the NHL’s longest active point streak snapped at nine games.
—Field Level Media