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Predators offensive woes cured by visit from NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres


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With only nine games remaining, the Nashville Predators are living on a prayer. For a team who had scored more than one goal twice in the past six games and is 25th in the entire NHL in goals per game with 2.41, the Predators needed an answer for their offensive woes. Who better to pay a visit than the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres. Scoring four goals in the first period, Nashville would go on to rout the Sabres by a final of 6-1.

“We’ve played well at home, but we haven’t got the victories for the fans. We talked about this game, we need the points, we need a home victory. It’s hard to put our finger on it. We’ve played really well, we’ve played some really good teams, but haven’t got on the positive side enough in the last little while at home,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. “Tonight was good, our fans deserved that, to see a victory here in this building. I thought we came out with the right approach, ready to go, and it paid off. We played with a lot of detail early. The first couple of shifts were a little sloppy, but after we scored the first goal we started getting some confidence and going from there.”

Among the four goals scored in the first period, both Colton Sissons and Calle Jarnkrok would register their first career NHL goals. Sissons, who has been on Nashville’s fourth line with Rich Clune for the majority of the ten games in his most recent call-up, had previously only registered a total of two assists in his young career. Jarnkrok, who has been with Craig Smith and Gabriel Bourque in all four of his NHL games, is currently a point-per-game player with one goal and three assists in that span.

“Sissons and Calle have played way beyond their age so far. You can just tell in plays they make out their there,” said Predators defenseman Victor Bartley. “They have such confidence, such poise. They’re not trying to toe drag or do too much; they’re making plays up the wall and they both got rewarded with goals tonight.”

“Both those young centermen are part of the future and they’ve come in here and done a really good job. Colton Sissons getting his first, he’s a really detailed player and I think his game will translate at the pro level, it was nice to see him get his first,” said Trotz. “Jarnkrok got a snipers goal as well off a good play by Smith who was able to keep the puck alive and by Bourque to get it over to Calle. He’s deserved everything, he’s very detailed. I love the way he plays, he plays on the right side of the puck all the time. He plays a 200 foot game.”

In the end, Nashville’s game was truly a display of “scoring by committee”, something the team prides itself on. While Ellis, Bartley, Del Zotto, and Ekholm would go scoreless against the Sabres, every forward on the ice for Nashville would score at least one point, with Shea Weber, Eric Nystrom, and Rich Clune being the team’s only multi-point producers of the night.

“That’s sort of the approach we have to take. You see a lot of our offense come from the back-end, with Shea getting 20 goals. Our forwards are playing a little more confident with our defense playing real active, especially in the first period. It is a testament to the way we want to play, everyone was included in the victory,” said Trotz.

With only eight games remaining, the streaky Predators are unfortunately finding their offense a tad bit late. Yet, with the end of a back-to-back Friday night in Dallas against the Stars and a rare Sunday night game against the Washington Capitals coming up over the next three days, the Predators are still focusing on their slim playoff chances in the stretch run to end the season.

“It’s good to score some goals for the fans and get the two points and give them something cheer about,” said Predators forward Eric Nystrom. “It’s nice having a 5-1 lead in any game, but we had a good start and that was a determining factor tonight. We stuck with it and it was a big win, but we’ve got a big game tomorrow and we have to move on.”