NASHVILLE – The Buffalo Sabres didn’t wrap up their five-game, 11-day road trip they way they wanted.
The Nashville Predators got off to a fast start, scoring four goals in the first period en route to a 6-1 victory at Bridgestone Arena.
Shea Weber led the way for Nashville, potting two goals – his 19th and 20th of the season. Carter Hutton stopped 32 shots in the win.
Sabres rookie defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen scored his second career goal for Buffalo, cutting Nashville’s lead to three goals 2:06 into the second period.
After Nashville made it 3-0 with 8:07 to play in the first period, Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan called a time out and laid into his team.
“That’s one of the things we’ve discussed now for a couple of weeks,” Nolan said. “A lot of guys are fighting for jobs and they don’t give away contracts in the National Hockey League and they certainly don’t want people who are in bottom place either.
“But we’ve been harping that now for awhile so it was very disheartening and very discouraging the way the guys came out and they didn’t even come out to play in that first period.”
Colton Sissons scored his first career goal to make it a 1-0 game 6:26 in. He crashed the net to cash in on a rebound that went to Sabres goaltender Matt Hackett’s right.
Nashville sustained pressure in the Buffalo zone and didn’t let up on the gas. Colin Wilson scored with 8:16 remaining and Calle Jarnrkrok netted his first career goal nine seconds later.
Wilson capitalized on a centering attempt from Victor Stalberg that got caught Christian Ehrhoff, who was covering the area at top of the crease, in the chest and landed near his feet. Before Ehrhoff could clear the puck out of the zone, Wilson knocked it in past Hackett.
Jarnkrok capitalized on a loose puck in the slot to extend his point streak to four games. The rookie has points in each of his four NHL games (1+3).
Nashville outshot the Sabres 15-4 in the first period. Buffalo recorded the first shot of the game before the Predators went on a 10-0 run that included the game’s first three goals.
Hackett started for Buffalo but was pulled after the first period. He made 11 saves on 14 shots before being replaced by Nathan Lieuwen to start the second period.
“It wasn’t Matt’s fault whatsoever. That’s what I said told the team between the first and second periods. We should be ashamed our ourselves,” Nolan said. “We let the kid out there to dry all by himself and that certainly wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t an indication of his play. We just couldn’t leave him in that situation much longer.”
Hackett said he would have liked to have stayed in the game but also that he would to have had the first two goals back.
“I need to find a way to make some saves for the boys. Find a way to keep them in the game and I didn’t do that,” he said. “I need to be better.”
Lieuwen ended the night with 17 saves.
In an attempt to jumpstart the team a few minutes after that, rookie Nicolas Deslauriers sized up Victor Bartley to earn the first fighting major of his career.
Weber’s slap shot with 43 seconds left in the period on a two-man advantage made it 4-0.
“It was pretty ugly. We got what we deserved,” Ehrhoff said. “Four goals down in the first and it’s unacceptable.”
Twelve different Predators recorded points in the period. All 12 Predators forwards ended up with at least a point by the time the game ended. Fourteen different players for Nashville collected at least one point against Buffalo.
Buffalo came out in the second period and played a competitive game, outshooting the Predators 15-6 in the second.
“The first period was so horrible it’s easy to play better,” Ristolainen said.
Ristolainen let loose a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle beat Hutton early in the second period to put Buffalo on the board. Johan Larsson put a shot on in tight from a bad angle and the rebound found Brian Flynn, who skated the puck around the net and dished it to Ristolainen. Buffalo’s top pick in the 2013 NHL Draft then ripped the shot home.
Weber responded 4:13 later with a slapper of his own at the other end of the rink to make it 5-1.
Eric Nystrom tacked on an empty netter with 39.9 seconds remaining.
Ristolainen has tried to model his game after Weber’s and got to see him up close for the first time.
“His shot is pretty good and he hit the net,” Ristolainen said. “He found a way through the net and it’s hard. That’s what I try to practice every day.”
Ville Leino felt light-headed after his first shift in the game and was taken into the medical room for testing. He returned later in the period and took a quick shift with 4:23 remaining before heading back to the dressing room. He did not return and Nolan said they’ll have more information on the injury after some further evaluation.
He’s the ninth injured player currently on the Sabres roster. Entering the game, Buffalo had lost 228 man games due to injury.
Buffalo finished the road trip 1-4-0 and play their next game Saturday night at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Before the game, the team will honor former goaltender Dominik Hasek by inducting him into the Sabres Hall of Fame. Faceoff is scheduled for just after 7 p.m.
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