My friend Mark Willoughby tweeted that it was the second "Music City Miracle" against Buffalo that this city has had and it is a very fitting description of the final 2:54 of hockey played in the HSBC Arena on Sunday night when the Preds scored three goals to tie and win the game 4-3 against a stunned Buffalo Sabres team..
The Predators came into the game only 18 hours removed from the end of Saturday night's win over Detroit. Playing their third game in four nights, after a 700 mile plane trip gave little indication that they would have much left in the tank.
Back-up goalie Anders Lindback was starting in net against last year's Vezina Trophy winner, Ryan Miller. The Preds got all their offense in the last game from unproven rookies and appeared to be depending on them heavily in a tough Western Conference fight for a playoff spot.
On paper, they shouldn't have been able to compete. That is the origin of a miracle. Rookie Blake Geoffrion scored a hat trick in just his eleventh NHL game giving him six goals on the year. Marty Erat scored the game winner just 27 seconds into overtime.
Anders Lindback stopped 35 of 38 Buffalo shots to get the win in his first NHL start in six week. Ryan Miller allowed four goals on 26 shots to take the loss.
The game started with plenty of back and forth skating and few shots. The Preds got on the board first on an odd goal at 6:44 which was the team's second shot of the evening. The play developed as J.P. Dumont passed the puck to Colin Wilson who threw it cross ice to Geoffrion who tried to shovel it to Dumont but it defected off of Paul Gaustad into the net giving the rookie his second goal in two nights
The first period ended with the Preds with a 1-0 lead in spite of the Sabres out shooting Nashville 11-6 and leading the Corsi 27-17.
The Predators started the second period with plenty of scoring chances but nothing to show for it. According to Preds Assistant Peter Horachek the team had 10 chances in the first six minutes.
Buffalo made the Predators pay for their wasted efforts by scoring back to back goals 42 seconds apart. The first was a spin-a-rama by Nathan Gerbe and the second was a wrister by Tim Connolly that put the Sabres ahead 2-1.
As the second period wound down at 19:00, Tyler Ennis scored a power play goal that Lindback should have had to give Buffalo a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead. The Predators have won few game this year when allowing three goals.
With 22.2 seconds left, J,P. Dumont thought that he had scored a goal but it was waived off. The Sabres led in shots for the period 17-10 and also the Corsi 23-19.
Buffalo went into a defensive mode in the third and the Predators were throwing shot at the net from everywhere hoping that something would connect as indicated by the 22-14 Corsi advantage.
With 2:27 left and time running out, the "miracle" started. Jon Blum got the puck to Geoffrion by the net who kept hitting it until it got past Miller's pad for his second goal of the game and to bring the Preds within a goal 3-2.
Sixty-four seconds later, Geoffrion completed his hattie when he tipped a shot from the blue line from Cody Franson. Geoffrion actually started the play by winning the face off and then Sergei Kostitsyn sent the puck to Franson. The Predators held on to the 3-3 score to send it to overtime.
Twenty seven seconds into overtime, David Legwand picked up a loose puck near the Buffalo net gave it to Ryan Suter who passed it to an open Erat who buried the puck from Miller's right side to seal the unbelievable win for the Predators. Miracle concluded.
While it was only two points in the standings, this game was the type of confidence booster that can send a team on to greater things. This was a sandwich game between a fiver game home stand where the Preds went 4-1 and a four game home stand that starts Tuesday against Edmonton.
The Predators moved into sixth in the West with 86 points, the dame as fifth place Los Angeles who have a game in hand. The big boost is that it put the Preds out of reach of Calgary and Anaheim who started the day a point behind the Preds as they squared off in the late game Sunday night.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass