After not facing each other since December 2011, the Buffalo Sabres and Nashville Predators will meet twice during the 2013-14 NHL season, with both meetings coming in a span of just 16 days. This marks the first time that Nashville and Buffalo will meet twice in a single season since the 2001-02 NHL season.
Nashville and Buffalo will first meet in Buffalo on March 11, marking the Predators’ first visit to the First Niagara Center since March 20, 2011. The teams will then face each other again, in Nashville, on March 27 to finish out the season series. This season marks the first time the Buffalo Sabres will face the Nashville Predators with a head coach other than Lindy Ruff.
This season will also mark the first time former Buffalo Sabres center Paul Gaustad will face his old team, since the Predators and Sabres haven’t played each other since Gaustad was traded in February 2012.
Buffalo won the last meeting between the teams, way back in December 2011 in Nashville, by a score of 3-2. Ryan Miller returned from a concussion, and Buffalo goals came from Luke Adam, Zack Kassian and Tyler Ennis. Oh, and that was the game that Jordin Tootoo ran over Miller, just nine games after the infamous Lucic collision.
Prior to that, Nashville defeated Buffalo 4-3 in March 2011, the teams’ last meeting in Buffalo. Blake Geoffrion, a rookie forward at the time, scored his first NHL hat trick, and Martin Erat scored the overtime winner for the Predators. Nathan Gerbe, Tim Connolly and Tyler Ennis scored for Buffalo.
Anders Lindback tended net in both of Nashville’s last two games against Buffalo.
In what will probably surprise few, the same four players have been the top point scorers for Nashville both of the past two seasons. It’s been Martin Erat, David Legwand, Mike Fisher and Shea Weber, in some order, the past two years.
Last year’s shortened season saw Shea Weber lead the team in points (28), while Legwand led in goals (12) and was second in points (25). Fisher and Erat rounded up the top four, with 21 points each. The year prior, Erat led the team with 58 points. Legwand came up second with 53, Fisher 51 and Weber 49. Patric Hornqvist, however, led the team with 27 goals, and Ryan Suter tied Erat for the team lead in assists (39).
The Predators have had a little bit of a busy offseason. Since July 5, they’ve added forwards Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks. The team also added goaltender Carter Hutton and defenseman Bryan Rodney, and first-round draft pick Seth Jones could even join the team this coming season. Of course, they lost a few players as well, including former Buffalo Sabres prospect T.J. Brennan, acquired by the Predators from Florida in June in exchange for Bobby Butler.
Players to Watch
- NASHVILLE: Former Ottawa Senator Mike Fisher has 32 points in 54 career NHL games against the Sabres, so he could prove to be a force to be reckoned with in the pair of meetings this season. David Legwand has 10 points (5-5) in 12 games against Buffalo, while newcomer Viktor Stalberg has scored three goals in seven games against the Sabres. Ryan Ellis will be another player to watch, as this season will mark his first time facing the Sabres in his NHL career.
- BUFFALO: Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff has 10 points (1-9) in 28 career NHL games against the Predators. Tyler Ennis – in a small sample size – has two goals in two games against the Nashville squad, while Steve Ott has 10 points (4-6) in 29 games agaisnt the Predators in his NHL career.
Meetings This Season
- March 11 @ BUF
- March 27 @ NSH