On Saturday night, the Nashville Predators flexed their muscles against the statistically worst team in the NHL. The Buffalo Sabres have struggled all season and Nashville was able to take advantage with a 3-0 win in front of a packed house at Bridgestone Arena.
Taylor Beck scored the first goal of the game, a PPG at 14:52 of the secondperiod. The final two goals were scored during the 3rd period from Craig Smith (05:49) and Mike Fisher (15:01). Pekka Rinne was stellar in net to earn his fourth shutout of the year.
Currently, Nashville sits one point out of firstplace in the Central Division behind the St. Louis Blues, and two points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks. Nashville is only three points out of first place in the NHL. The current lead in points is by the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, and Anaheim Ducks, all with 99 total points.
Tonight, the Preds welcome in the Canadiens to Bridgestone Arena for a 7:00pm CST start.
The Canadiens are coming off their 2nd straight shutout win. Most recently, the Habs were able to shutdown the San Jose Sharks by a score of 2-0. Tomas Plekanec (22) and Brendan Gallagher (21) were able to tally for Montreal for their latest victory.
Keys to Watch
The Stone Wall
Carey Price has been the best goalie in the league recently, if not all year. With a robust, 40-15-4, 9 shutouts, 1.86 GAA, .938 SV%, there is no denying his ability between the pipes. He has been the key to the success for the Canadiens this season, and the main reason they are ranked one of the best in the NHL. The Anahim Lake, BC, Canada native has put this team on his back and will be the driving force for them moving forward. If Nashville wants the chance to win tonight, they have to get a big night from Rinne, with offensive production from the 1st line.
With a team having a goalie such as Price, their offensive production gets lost. This team knows how to score points. With Max Pacioretty, ranked 19th in total points, P.K. Subban tied for 20th in assists, this team has some fire power on offense. Nashville’s defensive front, led by Shea Weber and Roman Josi, must keep their defensive minds together in order to stop the Habs scoring ability. If you overlook their ability to score, they will burn you. This team is a +6 goal differential over the last two games.
Winning % when scoring 1st
When you look at both teams, they do extremely well when they score first. Both teams have a top-tier goalie, timely scoring, and solid defensive corps. Montreal is currently ranked 2nd in the NHL when they score 1st with a percentage of .833. Nashville is ranked fourth when they score first with a percentage of .800. All of this being said, I believe the team that scores first will be in the driver’s seat to win this game. Points are coming at a premium with few games left, and these two teams are working on their position for the NHL playoffs.
Nashville will be playing a tough Montreal team that has been dominating opposing teams recently. Remember to not miss any Preds action on FOX Sports Tennessee or listen live on 102.5 The Game.