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Numerology: Stop first-goal flops

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- So what's something to watch for tonight when the Sabres meet the red-hot Blue Jackets? Pay attention to how the Sabres respond if they score first. They've done that in four of the last five games and haven't won any of them.

And as my story in today's editions point out, NHL teams win over 68 percent of the time when they score the first goal -- but the Sabres are a league-worst 3-7-5 when scoring first, for a winning percentage of just .200.

The Sabres scored first just twice in 20 games under Ron Rolston and went 0-1-1. They've opened the scoring 13 times in 29 games under Ted Nolan but are just 3-6-4.

I went into the NHL.com media stats area and copied the current chart of the teams' records when scoring first below. It shows how good teams flat-out dominate and even mediocre to bad teams (like Nashville, Dallas, Winnipeg and Calgary) have plenty of success when simply taking the 1-0 lead. The Sabres' record is downright abysmal by comparison.

Pretty interesting numbers I'd say.

 
Team when scoring first GP   

 L   OT Pct        
1 PITTSBURGH 51 26 2   1 .897          
2 ST LOUIS 50 29 1   3 .879          
3 COLORADO 50 26 1   3 .867          
4 NY RANGERS 53 21 4   1 .808          
5 MONTREAL 51 21 3   2 .808          
6 CHICAGO 53 25 0   6 .806          
7 TAMPA BAY 51 20 3   2 .800          
8 BOSTON 49 22 5   1 .786          
9 MINNESOTA 53 20 4   2 .769          
10 SAN JOSE 51 23 2   5 .767          
11 NASHVILLE 52 17 2   4 .739          
12 ANAHEIM 53 22 4   4 .733          
13 CAROLINA 50 13 1   4 .722          
14 TORONTO 53 20 6   3 .690          
15 LOS ANGELES 52 22 7   4 .667          
16 OTTAWA 51 14 4   3 .667          
17 COLUMBUS 50 20 7   3 .667          
18 PHILADELPHIA 52 16 5   4 .640          
19 FLORIDA 51 12 4   3 .632          
20 PHOENIX 50 17 7   3 .630          
21 NEW JERSEY 52 18 5   6 .621          
22 VANCOUVER 52 16 6   4 .615          
23 WASHINGTON 51 14 8   1 .609          
24 WINNIPEG 52 13 7   2 .591          
25 DALLAS 51 15 9   3 .556          
26 DETROIT 51 15 6   6 .556          
27 CALGARY 51 10 6   3 .526          
28 NY ISLANDERS 53 9 7   5 .429          
29 EDMONTON 52 8 9   4 .381          
30 BUFFALO 49 3 7   5 .200
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