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PREDATORS (27-28-10) AT SABRES (19-37-8)
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee (Dish: 446/HD: 9516; Direct TV: 644/HD: 644-1 ; Comcast Nashville 1675; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 401; Comcast Memphis 830; Charter Nashville 33/810; AT&T Nashville 724/1724)
Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates.
STORYLINES VS. BUFFALO
The Nashville Predators and Buffalo Sabres meet for the first time this season on Tuesday night in Buffalo; they’ll close out the season series on March 27 in Nashville. The Preds have faced the Sabres just 15 times in their history (7-6-2) – tied with Toronto for fewest matchups between the two clubs. The Preds are 5-1-1 in seven all-time trips to First Niagara Center.
The Preds and Sabres last met on Dec. 3, 2011 in a 3-2 victory for the Sabres at Bridgestone Arena. Buffalo jumped out to an early lead with a two-goal opening period and again in the third to down the Preds. Craig Smith recorded one of Nashville’s two goals.
The Preds last traveled to Buffalo on March 20, 2011, when Blake Geoffrion’s hat trick proved to the difference maker for Nashville. After Geoffrion scored in the first, the Sabres rattled off three goals in the second to take a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes. With less than four minutes remaining in regulation, Geoffrion potted a pair of goals just 1:02 apart to force overtime. Only 27 seconds of extra play would be required as the Preds completed the 4-3 comeback victory.
Mike Fisher has 32 points (8g-24a) in 54 games against the Sabres for his career. That is his highest assist total and second highest point total (Toronto) against a single team… Michael Del Zotto has seven points (7a) in 15 games against Buffalo… Colin Wilson has two points (2a) in two career games against the Sabres… Paul Gaustad was drafted by Buffalo in the seventh round (220th overall) of the 2000 Entry Draft. In 479 career games with the Sabres, he has amassed 181 points (71g-110a) and 585 penalty minutes.
JONES COMES UP BIG
Rookie defenseman Seth Jones posted his third career multiple-point game (1g-1a), including the second game-winning goal of his career 3:49 into the overtime period. Jones tallied his assist on Craig Smith’s second-period goal. He also tied a career high with a +3 rating on the night (last Dec. 30, 2013 vs. Detroit). The Plano, Texas native is tied for fourth in points (6g-17a-23pts), first in games played (65) and fourth in average time on ice (20:27) among first-year defensemen. Jones also ranks among the League’s Top 10 rookie skaters in blocked shots (88), game-winning goals (2), power-play points (8) and power-play goals (2).
PLAYER QUICK HITS
• With the game’s opening goal on Monday night, Nick Spaling has posted three points (2g-1a) in his last four games, and nine points (5g-4a) in his last 11 outings. The Preds are 9-2-1 when he scores a goal this season, as well as 30-6-2 when he scores a goal and 41-14-5 when he records a point all-time.
• Pekka Rinne has been among the League’s elite since becoming a full-time starter in 2008-09. Prior to missing 51 games this season, he ranked first in shutouts and among the League’s Top 10 in wins, save percentage and goals-against average.
• Craig Smith has compiled eight points (3g-5a) in his last 12 outings. Smith ranks first in goals, and second in both team scoring and shots (165).
• Mike Fisher has seven points (3g-4a) in his last 11 outings. The Peterborough, Ont., native leads all Preds forwards in ice time (19:24) – nearly three minutes higher than the next closest forward (Hornqvist, 16:37). Fisher also leads team forwards in blocked shots (58) and ranks second hits (114).
• Patric Hornqvist has seven points (2g-5a) in his last 11 games to move into fourth in team scoring (12g-21a-33pts). His 189 shots lead the team and rank among the League’s Top 30 skaters. Six of Hornqvist’s 12 goals this season have come in the second period.
• Roman Josi has 11 points (5g-6a) in his last 17 outings. He ranks second on the team and fifth among all League skaters in average ice time (26:25). The Bern, Switzerland native is one of just three blueliners in the NHL this season (Ryan Ellis and Kevin Shattenkirk), and one of three in franchise history, to record multiple shootout tallies.
NORRIS CALIBER CAPTAIN
Shea Weber has been one of the League’s top point-producing defensemen since Dec. 12, 2013, posting 27 points (8g-19a) in 34 games during that span.
• Weber has hit the 40-point mark for the fifth consecutive full season, and he ranks among the League’s Top 10 defensemen in scoring (15g-25a-40pts).
• He is one of three defensemen (Erik Karlsson (OTT) and P.K. Subban (MTL)) to lead their team in scoring.
• Weber ranks second among League defensemen in goals, while his nine power-play goals pace all blueliners and rank among the League’s Top 10 skaters.
• His team-leading 21 power-play points (9g-12a) are good for fifth among League defensemen and rank among the Top 15 skaters in the League.
• Eight of Weber’s 15 goals have come in the first period. The Preds are 11-1-2 when their captain finds the back of the net.
• Weber ranks fourth in the League in average ice time (26:54).
• Weber leads his team and ranks 11th in the NHL in blocked shots (137). He also ranks second on the team in hits (130), making him the only player in the NHL this season with more than 100 hits, 100 blocked shots and 10 goals.
• Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, Weber ranks first among NHL defensemen in goals (98), second in points (261), first in power-play goals (45), first in game-winning goals (15) and eighth in hits (987).
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
• Michael Del Zotto is two assists from 100 career helpers.
• Ryan Ellis is one goal from establishing a career high in goals.
• Patric Hornqvist is four goals shy of becoming the fourth Preds draftee to hit the 100-goal plateau and one goal shy of the sixth-most power-play goals in franchise history (35). He is also four points shy of 200 career points.
• Eric Nystrom is four points shy of establishing a career high.
• Viktor Stalberg is three games from 300 career games.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 4, Ottawa 3 (OT) at Canadian Tire Centre
• Nashville needed extra time for the 14th time this season (4-10).
• Pekka Rinne recorded his first victory since Oct. 19, 2013 – a 2-1 win at Montreal. He is now four wins shy of surpassing Tomas Vokoun on the franchise’s all-time wins list (158; Vokoun, 161).
• Michael Del Zotto and Colin Wilson picked up helpers on Spaling’s goal. Del Zotto has two points (2a) in his last five outings, while the assist snapped an eight-game pointless streak for Wilson.
• Mattias Ekholm snapped a 15-game scoring drought with his assist on Craig Smith’s goal.
• Eric Nystrom tallied the 100th point of his career with his second-period goal. It was his first goal since his four-goal outing on Jan. 24 at Calgary.
• Roman Josi (31:15) played past the 30-minute mark for the sixth time this season, while Shea Weber surpassed the 30-minute mark for the eighth time (30:20).
• Mike Fisher dished out a game-high seven hits as both teams combined for 78 hits.
• Nashville tied its season high with 42 shots on goal (Jan. 4 at Boston). Sixteen of the Preds 18 skaters put a shot on net, and they were led by Mike Fisher and Craig Smith – five shots each.
TROTZ CLIMBS ALL-TIME LISTS
Barry Trotz, the only head coach the Nashville Predators have ever known, ranks 14th on the all-time coaching wins list (546), and is three wins shy of tying Marc Crawford for 13th all-time (549). The Dauphin, Manitoba, native is the longest tenured head coach in the NHL (1,179 games) and has the second-longest active tenure in all four major sports behind the San Antonio Spurs’ Head Coach Gregg Popovich. Trotz’s system has seen marked improvement over the past 10 seasons, as the Preds posted a 145-199-49-17 record through the club's first five seasons, and 381-255-11-74 in the 10 seasons since, in addition to posting a 21-21-7 record in the playoffs during that span.
TEAM QUICK HITS
• The Preds are 12-12-5 against the Eastern Conference this season, but hold a 7-3-4 mark against the Atlantic Division.
• Nashville ranks among the League’s Top 10 in average penalty minutes (seventh, 10.2). The Preds have also been shorthanded the fifth-fewest times in the League (198).
• Nashville has the youngest defensive corps in the League (24.02 years). Only two other teams in the NHL have an average defensive age under 26 (including players on IR): Ottawa (25.32 years) and Washington (25.35 years).
• The Preds have not allowed a shorthanded goal since March 21, 2013, when Calgary scored two shorthanded – a span of 83 games. Nashville is the only team in the League not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season.
• Nashville is first in the League in team face-off win percentage (53.3 percent). The Preds have been 50 percent or better in the face-off circle in 51 of their 65 games.
15TH ANNIVERSARY MOMENT
Nov. 29, 2003: Vladimir Orszagh scores three as Preds beat Buffalo, 4-1
From 2001-04, few Nashville Predators were as popular as gritty and colorful forward Vladimir Orszagh. Dubbed the “Slovakian Tank” by Predators color commentator Terry Crisp, Orszagh scored at least 15 goals in each of his three seasons with Nashville. He also notched the fifth hat trick in franchise history on Nov. 29, 2003 in a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Bridgestone Arena.
All three of Orszagh’s tallies that night came at even strength. His first goal came less than two minutes into the game, and it wasn’t until the third that he struck again, scoring at the 1:39 and 10:28 marks of the final frame to send the hats flying. He also garnered an assist on the team’s only other goal, setting up “Vowel Line”-mate Denis Arkhipov.
The victory was the fourth of six in a row for Nashville during a 10-2-0 hot streak that helped vault the team to their first ever playoff berth.
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