Predators prevail, hand Sabres eighth straight setback

Ryan Johansen scored the tiebreaking goal 6:32 into the third period, and the visiting Nashville Predators handed the reeling Buffalo Sabres a season-high eighth straight loss with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.

P.K. Subban had a goal with an assist for the Predators (45-29-6, 96 points), who have clinched a playoff spot in the Western Conference and are 6-2-1 in their last nine games. Nashville remains in the mix for first place in the Central Division with Winnipeg and St. Louis during this final week of the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Sabres (31-39-10, 72 points) are mired in their longest losing streak since 2014-15. Eliminated from playoff contention, Buffalo is 3-18-3 since Feb. 15.

However, Buffalo didn’t make things easy for the Predators. The visitors, though, gutted out a third straight road victory thanks to Johansen, who backhanded the puck near the side of the net and past ex-Nashville goalie Carter Hutton.

Nashville struck first, 8:49 into the game as Craig Smith deflected in a shot, possibly off his glove, from Subban that survived a video replay. It was Smith’s 21st goal of the season and second in three games.

Buffalo responded with 3:56 left in the period. Kyle Okposo swept one in on a redirection of Evan Rodrigues’ own redirection off a shot from Rasmus Ristolainen. The veteran Ristolainen missed the previous four contests with an illness.

Subban then put the Predators back in the lead 44 seconds into the second. The star defenseman broke in by himself near the side boards and drilled a shot from the circle by Hutton (32 saves).

Once again, the Sabres answered. This time with 4.6 seconds left in the second period, as Jeff Skinner played a rebound off the back board and into an empty net with Pekka Rinne (26 saves) out of position. It was Skinner’s career-high 38th of the season.

Nashville concludes the regular season with two home games, Thursday against Vancouver and versus Chicago on Saturday.