|Predators look to right ship against visiting Senators|
When the Nashville Predators started a four-game homestand on Tuesday night by beating the St. Louis Blues, it appeared they would ride the momentum from it and roll through the remaining three games.
The Predators erased a 3-0 third-period deficit and won on Filip Forsberg's penalty shot in overtime.
Only it hasn't worked that way. Consecutive losses to Calgary and Detroit not only ended a seven-game points streak, but brought to light issues that plagued the team even when they were piling up points in that run.
Nashville finds itself needing a win Monday night against the Ottawa Senators to salvage a split of its once-promising homestand.
"It's just time for us to look in the mirror," defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "We haven't been playing up to our potential of late. We got away on the road with a couple wins and a couple points. It's all great, but we get back here and some of the same stuff kind of creeps into our game."
For the Predators (34-14-9) to return to the form they've flashed most of the season, they'll have to tighten up defensively and crank up the power play again.
Nashville has allowed at least three goals in five of its last seven games, including all three last week. It has been one of the league's stingiest teams, allowing the second-fewest goals in the league with 145 in 57 games.
The Predators have been deadly with the man advantage most of the season, ranking fifth in the league in converting power plays. But they are just 1-for-23 in the last seven games, that goal occurring in the third period of their 3-1 loss Saturday night to Detroit.
Coach Peter Laviolette actually felt his team played better against the Red Wings than they did in a 4-3 setback to Calgary, but acknowledged the final product wasn't quite good enough.
"We did do some good things out there," he said. "There was a power-play goal and 75 attempts at the net. There were a lot of quality chances that we had that we just couldn't get them to drop. We hit three posts, four posts and just couldn't get it to bounce."
While Nashville was frustrated by a combination of iron and Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek, Ottawa (21-27-9) was enjoying a rare offensive outburst Saturday in a 6-3 home win over the New York Rangers. Derick Brassard potted a goal with two assists, while Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Thomas Chabot each added a goal and a helper.
"Even if we're not happy where we're at right now," Brassard said, "I think we just have to keep pushing every game."
Even with that explosion, the Senators rank 26th in the league in scoring. They are also 29th in goals against, 28th on the man advantage and 29th on the penalty kill. That helps explain why they appear to be in a seller's role with the trading deadline just over a week away.
Craig Anderson (17-17-5, 3.16 goals-against average, .904 save percentage) is expected to man the net for Ottawa against Pekka Rinne (29-9-4, 2.36, .926). Rinne got the night off Saturday while backup Juuse Saros played, making 31 saves.