TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. BUFFALO
Tonight marks a clash between the top two coaches in active tenure with a single team as Nashville welcomes Buffalo to Bridgestone Arena. The Sabres last trip to the Music City came on Oct. 10, 2009 – a 1-0 Sabres victory. All-time, Nashville is 7-5-2 against the Sabres, but is 2-4-1 on Bridgestone ice.
These teams last met on March 20, 2011, when rookie Blake Geoffrion stole the show with his first-career hat trick, but overtime would be needed to decide a winner. Geoffrion got the Predators on the board early, scoring just 6:44 into the first frame. The Sabres battled back to take a 3-1 lead after the second period, but Geoffrion scored goals number two and three just 1:02 apart in the final frame to force OT. Martin Erat completed the comeback 27 seconds into overtime as the Predators rallied to a 4-3 victory over the Sabres.
Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff, brought on prior to the 1997-98 season, ranks first among active coaches and second in NHL history in both games coached (1090) and wins (539) with one team, second only to Al Arbour (N.Y. Islanders, 1,500 and 740) in both categories. Barry Trotz, meanwhile, is fourth on the games coached list (1009) having recently passed Edmonton’s Glen Sather for fifth on the games won with a single team list (467).
Mike Fisher has 32 points (8g-24a) in 53 games against the Sabres for his career. That is his highest assist total and tied for his highest point total (with Toronto) against a single team… David Legwand has eight points (4g-4a) in 11 career games vs. Buffalo.
The Predators scored more goals against the Canucks on Thursday night than their previous four games combined. Ten different Predators found the score sheet, including six multi-point efforts, as Nashville put six goals on the board for the first time in 2011-12.
Craig Smith (3a) and Colin Wilson (1g-2a) led the way with three points each. Smith, who has five points (5a) in five games, posted the most assists and points by a rookie since Dan Hamuis on March 4, 2004. The Madison, Wis., native continues to pace the Predators in points (7g-13a-20pts). Wilson posted his second multiple-point game of the year (Nov. 9) and his first three-point outing since Jan. 6, 2011 (1g-2a).
Mike Fisher and Martin Erat continue to produce, building off of their successes in November. Fisher, who netted his first game-winner of the season on Thursday, has pocketed eight points (3g-5a) in Nashville’s last nine games. He also won 11-of-18 faceoffs on the night (61 percent). Erat has posted 13 points (5g-8a) in 16 games since returning from injury on Oct. 29.
In 25 games this season, the Predators have outscored their opponents 46-41 in the final 40 minutes of play – 20-17 (plus three) in the second period and 26-24 (plus two) in the third. Nashville has scored 26 of its 66 total goals in the third period; that total is good enough for eighth in the NHL. Those goals come despite a shot disadvantage of 529-452 (minus 77) in the final two frames. At Bridgestone Arena, the Predators have outscored their opposition 18-15 (plus three) in the final 40 minutes, despite being outshot 205-191 (minus 14).
Overall, Nashville has been outshot in 19 of its 25 games this season. The Predators are now 10-7-2 when being outshot, and are tied for League’s most wins in that situation. In the four games where the Predators have outshot their opponent, they hold a 2-0-2 record.
The Predators have scored eight power-play goals in the last seven games, including a perfect 3-for-3 night against Vancouver. That performance marks the first time Nashville has scored three power-play goals since Feb. 4, 2010, against Colorado.
Since Nashville’s overtime loss to Columbus on Nov. 19, eight of its 16 goals have come via the power-play. For the season, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith lead the way for Nashville with three power-play goals each.
Nashville has climbed to eighth in the League in success rate (18.5 percent). The team has been consistent both at home and on the road. The Predators have posted six goals on 37 chances (16.2 percent) at Bridgestone Arena, while the team ranks seventh in the League on the road – posting 11 goals on 55 man-advantage opportunities (20 percent).
• The Predators are 12-4-3 when they score at least two goals, and are 9-1-2 when holding their opponent to two goals or less.
• Weber (+15) and Suter (+13) rank among the NHL’s top 15 in plus/minus.
• Pekka Rinne’s 10 wins on the season are tied for ninth among all goaltenders, and he ranks second among goalies in shots against (699) and leads the League in saves (644). He ranks third in minutes played (1,281:55).
• Jonathon Blum ranks among the League’s Top 10 in blocked shots (58).
• In their 12 victories this season, the Predators have received game-winning goals from 11 different players. Nick Spaling is the only player with multiple game-winning goals.
• Nashville Head Coach Barry Trotz notched his 465th career win on Nov. 17 vs. Toronto, passing Edmonton’s Glen Sather for fifth on the games won with a single team list.