Smith nets 20th as Preds inch closer to playoff pack

Preds v BUF

The Buffalo Sabres have the NHL’s worst record. The Nashville Predators are in desperation mode.

These are always the scariest games for the team who “should win.”

Nashville held serve, however, and got the 4-1 victory in front of 18,659 at First Niagara Center. The win got the Preds back to .500 on the season.

Carter Hutton got the call between the pipes on this night and responded. He made 24 saves en route to his first win since February 27. He’s now 15-10-4 on the season.

Early on, the Sabres got things started when, on the power play, Drew Stafford scored his 12th of the season.

In the closing minutes of the opening frame, the Preds got on the board by way of their own man advantage. Shea Weber flipped a wrister toward the traffic in front and Nick Spaling was able to deflect it in to tie the game.

In the second, Colin Wilson gained the zone and left a perfect drop pass for Weber. The captain wristed a laser up and over Jhonas Enroth for the 2-1 lead.

Moments later, Wilson continued his strong night by whipping a pass to Craig Smith from behind the Buffalo net. The former Wisconsin Badger netted his 20th of the year (and 40th point) to put his team up 3-1.

Former Sabre Paul Gaustad would add the empty netter after some hard work by Mike Fisher and Spaling.

The goal on this first part of the road trip was for Nashville to get all four available points before playing the Central Division’s top teams this weekend. They’ll play 2nd place Chicago on Friday and then return home to take on the Western Conference leading St. Louis Blues on Saturday. With a little luck (read: some losses by the Dallas Stars), they can gain further ground in their quest for the 8th and final playoff spot. At game’s end on Tuesday, Nashville was just six points back.

Puck drops at 7:00pm Central on Friday.