On Sunday, the Nashville Predators, the NHL’s best team, traveled to take on the Buffalo Sabres, the NHL’s worst team, in what was more competitive than it needed to be.

The Predators dominated the 1st period but was unable to get past Sabres goalie, Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth was the reason that this game was close as the Preds would outshoot the Sabres in every period. The Predators led in shots 11-3 after the first period, yet the score was 0-0.

The second period was once again dominated by Nashville as they led in shots 15-4. Buffalo’s leading scorer, Tyler Ennis got the Sabres on the board. Ennis scored his 15th of the year at 19:46 to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead at the end of the second period.

Nashville FINALLY beat Neuvirth at 15:43 when Mike Ribeiro scored his 12th goal of the season (PPG). There were many chances for the Preds to score, but they were unable to beat Neuvirth again during the 3rd period. The game would go to OT, and both goalies stood tall, so the game went to a shootout.

In the shootout, the Preds had contributions from Mike Santorelli and a beautiful back-handed goal from Filip Forsberg to get 2 points from Buffalo, and to become the first team to 40 wins.

Tonight, the Predators make it back to Bridgestone Arena to take on the Colorado Avalanche (26-23-11).

In their latest outing, the Avs took on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Pepsi Center on Sunday.

Nathan MacKinnon got his 1st NHL hat trick and his first goal in 13 games to lead the Avs to a 5-4 win. Colorado was up 5-2 and allowed two Lightning goals late to make it close, the Avs closed out the game with a win.

Colorado is being led in points and goals by the ever dangerous, Jarome Iginla. Iginla has amassed 18 goals and 41 points. Defenseman Tyson Barrie leads all Avs with 27 assists.

Keys to Watch

Better, but not great!

The Nashville Predators had a better performance on Sunday in Buffalo, compared to the effort produced in Philadelphia. It seems that Coach Laviolette is trying different line combinations. Filip Forsberg has been on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd lines in the last 3 games. Calle Jarnkrok was a healthy scratch, while Taylor Beck was in the lineup. Surely, coming home for the next three games against the Avs, Wild, and Red Wings will bring back the play fans saw in the first two weeks of February.


Avalanche on Fire

Colorado has been a team trending upwards in the last 5 outings after struggling in previous games. The Avs have beaten Arizona, Dallas, Chicago, and Tampa Bay. Their only loss came to the LA Kings 4-1. In their wins, the Avalanche have been averaging 4.5 goals per game. When this team gets their offense rolling, they can be a very dangerous team. The Predators must contain the Colorado offense in order to have success against this young, talented team.


One Glaring Statistic

When you look at the statistics between these two rivals in the Central Division, the shots against per game (for/against) comes up. Currently, the Colorado defense gives up 32.9 shots per game by the opponent. This ranks the Avs in 28th place in the NHL. Nashville is the third best in the NHL averaging 31.9 shots per game. Nashville should be able to get many opportunities for shots on goal against Semyon Varlamov.

The Predators are looking to continue their success at home with a record of 25-3-1. Be sure to get out to Bridgestone Arena for this Central Division rivalry. If you can’t make it out, you can catch all of the Predators action on Fox Sports Tennessee with pregame beginning at 6:30 pm CST or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 7:00 pm CST.