There was an ugly incident at 15:21 of the third when Scott Nichol of Nashville sucker-punched Buffalo’s Jaroslav Spacek. Spacek received an interference call on the play but Nichol left the game after receiving an instigator penalty, gross misconduct, 10-minute misconduct and five-minute fighting major.
These teams had not played since Nov. 29, 2003, and won’t play again this season unless it’s in the Stanley Cup finals. With Buffalo the top team in the Eastern Conference and Nashville second in the West, it’s not an unlikely Cup preview.
But the Sabres, who outshot Nashville 36-31, scored two goals in the first five minutes and sealed the victory with three in the second, including the last two by Afinogenov. Derek Roy had three assists.
Martin Erat scored short-handed, and Jason Arnott added a power-play goal in the third as Nashville snapped a five-game winning streak by losing for the first time in six games against Eastern Conference teams.
The Predators used to dominate this intermittent series, winning the last four meetings. They also came in as the NHL’s best team on home ice, but the Sabres are the league’s best road team. They’re 15-3 on the road now.