By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — As the Predators move into the second half othe 2022-23 season, their erratic year contues. After getting off to a strong start on the recent road trip with three victories, they duffered two straight one-goal losses. They returned home to begin a three-game stand, but Saturday’s opener didn’t go as hoped. They fell behind twice, battled back from a two-goal deficit, then faded in the third period as the Buffalo Sabres took a 5-3 victory.

In many ways it mirrored what’s happened a lot to the Predators in the first half, They would get behind early, battle back, but then often take a late loss,, They’ve won enough to have a 19-17-6 mark, but that leaves them in sixth place in the Central Division of the Western Conference and six points out of the wild card card standings to reach the playoffs. 

They got behind Buffalo early Saturday. as Jeff Skinner opened the scoring for Buffalo, taking the puck on a breakaway and deking a goal past Juuse Saros to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead at 11:37 of the first period. Juuso Parssinen then drew an elbowing penalty on Ilya Lyubushkin, leading to Nashville’s first power-play opportunity. Roman Josi capitalized on the opportunity, receiving a feed from Ryan Johansen and one-timing it into the net on the man advantage to tie the score at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.

The second period saw lots of scoring from both teams.  fBuffalo took the lead again with a go-ahead goal from Dylan Cozens before Victor Oloffson scored on the power play to extend Buffalo’s lead to 3-1. 

Nashville got two goals in less than a minute to even the score. Jeremy Lauzon received a behind-the-net feed from Cody Glass and blasted a shot past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen at 15:10 to make it 3-2. Then Ryan Johansen tipped in a wrist shot from Dante Fabbro to make it 3-3 at the end of the second period.

But things did not go well for Nashville in the third period. Buffalo broke the tie with a shorthanded tally from Kyle Okposo. Jack Quinn scored unassisted at 16:49 for the 5-3 final.

After a Tuesday night game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the home stand concludes Thursday against the St.Louis Blues.