NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators credited their defensive effort after their latest win.
Kevin Fiala scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period and the Predators beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 Monday night. Ryan Ellis also scored and Pekka Rinne stopped 21 shots to help Nashville win its second straight.
“I thought we were really good defensively tonight,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “They’ve got a lot of tools over there, a lot of people that can hurt you, certainly that top line and they’ve got some guys from the back end that can really move the puck and add to the rush.”
Rinne stopped eight shots in the first, five in the second and eight in the third. Five of the eight Rinne turned away in the third came in the final 1:17 with Hutton lifted for an extra attacker — including a stop on a slap shot by the Sabres’ Jack Eichel with 15.4 seconds remaining.
“That was one of our better defensive games all year,” Rinne said. “Guys did an extremely good job just staying with it. … They have a lot of team speed and they’re top couple of lines are pretty dangerous.”
Sam Reinhart had a goal for Buffalo, which is 0-2-1 since a 10-game winning streak — with each loss coming by one goal. Carter Hutton had 23 saves.
“It seems like we’ve been having trouble for a little bit here,” Reinhart said. “So we’ve got to figure that out, get back to what gave us success earlier.”
On the Predators’ go-ahead goal, Craig Smith had the puck in the left corner and found Fiala at the left faceoff dot, where he snapped a quick wrist shot between Hutton’s pads with 3:26 left in the middle period. It gave Fiala six points in his last six games.
Reinhart had tied the score 1-1 earlier in the period. After a mad scramble in front, Reinhart’s backhand was turned aside by Rinne but Nashville captain Roman Josi’s clearing attempt with his backhand went into the net, giving Reinhart his seventh of the season at 5:20.
“I did like the shot mentality in that little spurt,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “I thought there were times where we did control the play. But other than that, I didn’t mind the way we played. I just thought we needed to generate more.”
Housley served as an assistant coach with the Predators for four seasons prior to getting the head coaching job in Buffalo.
Ellis scored the game’s first goal with 3:35 left in the first. With the Predators on a power play, Josi sent a pass from the right point to Ellis at the top of the left faceoff circle, and Ellis fired a one-timer high to Hutton’s glove side.
“Great win for us, I think especially the defense played well and Peks was Peks like always,” Josi said. “It’s a huge win. That’s a good team over there. They’re playing really well this year.”
NOTES: The road team had won the previous six matchups between the teams. … Nashville is 15-1-0 this season when scoring first. … Predators C Nick Bonino returned to the lineup after missing one game with an illness. … Reinhart has six goals and one assist in seven career games against Nashville. … Hutton, who served as Rinne’s backup in Nashville for three seasons beginning in the 2013-14 season, dropped to 0-3-1 against his former team.
Sabres: Host Toronto on Tuesday night to open a stretch of four straight at home.
Predators: At Vancouver on Thursday night.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports