BUFFALO, N.Y. – Boom and boom. The Nashville Predators learned how quickly any player named Geoffrion can strike.
Both NHL playoff races got a little tighter Sunday when rookie Blake Geoffrion—grandson of Hall of Famer Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion—added come-from-behind drama by scoring three times in the Predators’ stunning 4-3 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Geoffrion scored twice in 62 seconds, including the tying goal with 1:23 left, when he deflected in Cody Franson’s point shot.
Martin Erat scored the decisive goal 27 seconds into overtime—one-timing in Ryan Suter’s pass into an open right side—after the Predators rallied from a 3-1 deficit with under three minutes left in regulation.
The Predators improved to 7-2-2 in their past 11 and moved into a fifth-place tie with Los Angeles in the changing-by-the-day Western Conference standings. Only three points separated fifth and 10th places at the start of play Sunday.
The Sabres salvaged a point to pad their eighth-place lead in the Eastern Conference, moving three points up on idle Carolina. Nathan Gerbe, Tim Connolly and Tyler Ennis scored for the Sabres, who squandered a two-goal lead for the seventh time this season.
“We stole that one,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “It was looking pretty bleak, then all of a sudden we stayed with it.”
Geoffrion, Nashville’s 2006 second-round pick, has six goals in 11 games since making his NHL debut last month. He has provided a spark to a defensive-minded squad that is one of three teams—joining Ottawa and Phoenix—without a 20-goal scorer this season.
“It was awesome to get the win. That’s the main thing,” Geoffrion said, before relaying a joke he heard from teammate Shane O’Brien. “Like O.B. said, ‘It’s about time I did something.'”
And of course, the Predators have come to calling the 23-year-old Geoffrion “Boomer.”
It was a more sombre mood in the Sabres’ room one day after Buffalo beat Atlanta 8-2.
“It’s stunning,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “When you get up by two, and you’ve got a couple minutes left and you give up a point, that one really hurts. It was a quiet room walking in there.”
The Sabres dropped to 8-3-3 in their past 14 games. Buffalo is 8-8 in overtime this season and 19-2-3 when leading after two periods.
Trailing 1-0, the Sabres appeared to take control with a dominating second period in which they outscored the Predators 3-0 and outshot them 17-10. Nashville looked as though it had run out of steam after managing just one shot in the final 10:35 of the period.
Geoffrion cut the Sabres’ lead to 3-2 with 2:27 left in regulation when he capitalized on Andrej Sekera’s turnover at the side of the Buffalo net and jammed the puck inside the right post. The tying goal came with Geoffrion winning a faceoff to the right of the Sabres net. Nashville worked the puck back to Franson, who fired a shot from the right point that was deflected by Geoffrion and handcuffed goalie Ryan Miller.
Miller was sharp in keeping the game tied. He got his blocker out to foil Sergei Kostitsyn’s shot from the slot with 23 seconds left.
Nashville’s Anders Lindback stopped 35 shots for the win in his first appearance since Feb. 7. Lindback got the start in place of Pekka Rinne, who got a rest after starting the previous 20 games, including a 3-1 home win over Detroit on Saturday night.
Though shaky at times, Lindback kept the Predators in the game. His best save came with 7:25 left in regulation when he kicked his pad out to stop Thomas Vanek.
“It’s not the way we want to lose a point,” Vanek said. “In a 3-1 hockey game, I had a couple of good chances and didn’t put them away.”
Notes: Sabres D Steve Montador didn’t play because of an undisclosed lower body injury. … Coming off a five-game homestand, in which they went 4-1, the Predators will open a four-game homestand Tuesday against Edmonton. Nashville will play seven of its final nine games at home. … The Sabres’ last 10 games are split between home and away. … New Sabres owner Terry Pegula’s youngest daughter, Kelly, and son, Matthew, took the ice two hours before the game to practice shots and stick-handling. … Geoffrion became the fifth NHL rookie to have a three-goal game this season. Three have come against the Sabres. New York Rangers Derek Stepan did it in October, and New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner matched him last month. All three took place in Buffalo.