By Amanda DiPaolo
Brentwood native, Blake Geoffrion recorded his first career hat trick in the Predators 4-3 overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres Sunday afternoon in Western New York.
Nashville was looking to maintain playoff positioning in the Western Conference standings in the second game of a back-to-back series. Both Nashville and Buffalo were coming off impressive Saturday night wins. Nashville won their fourth consecutive game against Detroit, 3-1, while the Sabres destroyed Atlanta by an 8-2 score.
Anders Lindback got the start for Nashville, giving Pekka Rinne the afternoon off. Lindback’s record moves to 11-5-2 with the win. Buffalo’s starting goaltender Ryan Miller got the start for the Sabres.
While it was the Predators who got on the scoresheet first, Buffalo scored three unanswered goals in the second period. Nashville needed the dying minutes of the third period before they were able to tie things up.
The first period was fast, though there weren’t a lot of scoring chances. Tyler Ennis hit the post just shy of five minutes into the game. But it was the Predators who got on the board first scoring a couple minutes later at 6:44 into the opening frame. JP Dumont dropped the puck to Colin Wilson as he skated into the offensive zone. Wilson sent a cross-ice pass to Blake Geoffrion who tried to send a cross-ice pass back to JP Dumont but the puck went in the net off the skate of Buffalo center Paul Gaustad.
It was Geoffrion’s fourth goal of the season and second time the rookie scored in consecutive games.
Jordin Tootoo almost made it a 2-0 lead when he hit to pipe with just 3:21 to play.
The period ended with several non-calls that benefited Nashville, to the anger of not only the fans in Buffalo but even the players on the ice. Cody Franson could have been called for boarding and there was an obvious icing call that was waved off. Even Miller banged his ice with his stick in frustration.
The second period was all Buffalo. While the Predators had several scoring chances in the opening six minutes of the middle frame, it was all Sabres from there.
Nathan Gerbe opened the scoring for Buffalo at 7:04 into the second period. Gaustad was working the boards against Jon Blum, who was simply outworked. Gaustad found Gerbe in front of the net beat Lindback to tie the game. It was Gerbe’s 11th goal of the season.
The Sabres took the lead 42 seconds later when Tim Connolly picked up his 11th goal of the season with a shot that beat Lindback high.
Buffalo would add to their lead when Franson was called for slashing Gerbe with just 2:38 left to play in the second period.
Tyler Ennis scored with 1 minute before the second intermission. The power play goal was his 19th goal of the season. His shot went high, glove side over Lindback.
Buffalo outshot the Predators 17-10 in the second period.
There was no scoring in the third period until Geoffrion picked up his 5th of the season with 2:27 left to play. The puck was at the side of the net and Miller was trying to secure it but Geoffrion pushed the puck by Miller to bring the Predators within one goal of tying the game. The goal was unassisted.
Geoffrion completed the hat trick 1:04 seconds later when he tipped in a Franson shot from the point just as Nashville pulled Lindback for the extra skater. The goal was Geoffrion’s sixth goal of the season, third of the game.
After not winning in the overtime period until game 71 last week against the Bruins, it only took Nashville their first shift to end the game in overtime for the second time in three games.
David Legwand tried to pass the puck to Martin Erat from behind the net but it went to Ryan Suter who was able to find Erat. Erat beat Miller for his 14th goal of the season.
The Predators scored three goals in 2:54 for the win.
The win gives Nashville 86 points. The Predators move up from eighth spot to sixth in the Western Conference.
Nashville now has points in 9 of its last 11 games.
The Predators will try to keep the momentum going on Tuesday night when they host the Edmonton Oilers for the final time this season. Tickets are still available.
– Photo credit: AP
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