BUFFALO, NEW YORK (TICKER) —Rem Murray scored for the first time with his new team to complete a three-goal first period and defenseman Jason York added a goal and an assist as the Nashville Predators defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 5-1.
Murray, acquired last month from the New York Rangers in a trade for goaltender Mike Dunham, scored with a wrist shot just 58 seconds after teammate Vitaly Yachmenev shoved the puck from the front of the crease for his first tally of the season at 13:08 to make it 2-0.
“It was nice to get it out of the way. It was a long drought,” Murray said. “Those guys (linemates Adam Hall and Scott Hartnell) are easy to play with. They both play the game hard and drive to the net. They can shoot the puck really well.”
Hall got the Predators going 5:03 into the game, backhanding a loose puck past fellow rookie Ryan Miller following a scramble in front of the net. Stu Barnes had failed to clear the puck outside the crease.
“It was a terrible game,” Barnes said. “As a team we didn’t play very well at all. It’s disappointing. We started to climb a little bit and then we have a game like tonight. Obviously, we’ve had a good run here.
“We’re not gonna make excuses. I feel bad for Ryan Miller because we left him hanging out there by himself.”
Miller was 2-0-1 in his previous three starts.
“It was just a matter of bounces,” he said. “I don’t think I played horribly. I’m disappointed. I imagine a lot of guys are.”
Playing in his 200th NHL game, Scott Hartnell picked up a pair of assists on two of the first-period goals and stretched his point-scoring streak to six games. He has two goals and eight assists in that span.
“That line continues to give us some energy,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said.
York scored his first goal in eight games in the second period and David Legwand was credited with his 13th of the season when the puck crossed the goal line off his left skate just 19 seconds into the third. Legwand’s goal was decided by a video review.
“We definitely got all the bounces tonight,” York said. “A good call there when they went upstairs. They could have got some momentum on that. It’s seemed everything went our way tonight. We don’t usually get many games like this.”
Chris Gratton released a quick shot from the low slot on a feed by Miroslav Satan from behind the net to score his fourth goal in three games and 14th of the season with 15:22 left. But the recently improved Sabres fell to 7-2-2-1 in their last 12 games.
“This was our first real bonehead game,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “I don’t know how long I have to go back. There was no energy. I think this is a real good wakeup call. It’s a step back. It was unacceptable and ugly. They didn’t hit anybody, they did not get involved or enganged. I think for two periods we didn’t win an offensive zone faceoff. It was a poor, poor effort.”
Meanwhile, the Predators improved to 4-1-0 in their last five games and 7-3-2 in their past 12. They are 3-0-1 all-time in Buffalo.
“For the most part, every game we play is a one-goal game, so it was nice to have a little bit of breathing room,” Trotz said. “It’s a good learning expereience for us. We haven’t been in this situation a whole lot. I wanted us to come back and not sit on the lead and we did a good job there.”
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun was rarely tested as he made 20 saves for his career-high 15th victory in 37 games this season. He is 13-8-4 in his last 25 starts.
“It’s kind of nice, if you make a mistake, nothing is happening,” Vokoun said. “You can enjoy the game. The guys played great tonight. We won and that’s all we care about. Two points, that’s why we came here.”