Halfway through this abbreviated NHL season, almost every Predators game has been defined by one thing: the first goal.

In the 13 games they scored first, the Predators have been great, posting an 8-0-5 record. Nashville is one of just four teams to have picked up at least a point in every game it got on the board first.

But allowing the first goal almost always has been a huge hurdle for the Predators. They are 1-9 when allowing opponents to score first, and the two points they gained in those situations are the fewest in the league.

Another way to look at it: The Predators piled up 21 of their 23 points when scoring first, as opposed to just two when opponents scored first. That 19-point differential is the largest disparity of any NHL team.

“It’s a lot easier to play when you have the lead,” coach Barry Trotz said. “You get your confidence. You do the things you need to do and play with a little more freedom.

“Sometimes when you score first it’s like riding a bike downhill. But when you don’t score first, it’s like you’re riding a bike uphill. You can do it, but it’s not easy.”