The Nashville Predators are missing Pekka Rinne, but their offensive struggles are becoming a serious problem.
They rarely have issues of any kind against the New York Islanders.
While their No. 1 goaltender is still out, the Predators attempt to find the net for the first time in three games by continuing their dominance of the struggling Islanders on Tuesday night.
Nashville (8-7-2) is 3-3-1 since Rinne was lost for six weeks with what's been reported as an E. coli infection in his hip. While he's expected to make a full recovery, the Predators aren't faring too well without him, giving up an average of 4.14 goals over the past seven games.
Now, scoring is a major concern as well.
Nashville has been handed 5-0 defeats in each of its last two games, falling at Winnipeg on Friday and in New Jersey two days later. The Predators, 2-2-1 on this franchise record-tying seven-game trip, mustered a season-low 15 shots and went 0 for 6 on the power play against the Devils.
They'll try to avoid becoming the first team since Phoenix from March 14-18 to be blanked in three straight games, and facing the Islanders (6-9-3) should help.
Nashville is 8-0-1 over the last nine meetings, going 2-0-1 at Nassau Coliseum. The Predators needed just 14 saves from Rinne in a 3-2 victory over New York on Oct. 12.
This time, they'll likely have Carter Hutton in net. He's compiled a 4.26 goals-against average and been pulled twice while making every start in Rinne's absence.
Hutton has surrendered eight goals on 31 shots over the last two games, and could use some help from his punchless teammates. The Predators' 2.18 goals per game rank 25th in the NHL, and no one on the team has managed to score more than four.
David Legwand, who has a team-high 14 points, is one of four Nashville players with four goals. He had seven points in the Predators' three games prior to their past two shutouts.
Legwand has seven points in 10 career meetings with the Islanders, including an assist in the most recent.
Patric Hornqvist had a goal in that matchup, giving him three in three games versus New York.
The Islanders are opening a three-game homestand after being outscored 16-6 during an 0-4 road trip. They dropped the finale 4-2 at Montreal on Sunday a day after falling 5-2 at Columbus.
It's unclear if New York will have Thomas Vanek back after he missed a game due to an upper-body injury sustained 23 seconds into Saturday's defeat. The left wing has one goal and two assists in six games since being acquired in a trade from Buffalo last month.
"Everyone finds a way to do what they have to do at this level," center Brock Nelson said of playing without Vanek against the Canadiens. "I think everyone did a good job. We had good energy from the start, so I don't think it was a factor."
The penalty kill hasn't been doing its job. The unit is last in the NHL with a 72.9-percent success rate, and it's allowed opponents to go 8 for 17 over the last four games.
The Islanders' power play, however, ended an 0-for-22 stretch by going 2 for 4 Sunday.
Both of John Tavares' assists against Montreal came with the man advantage, giving him a team-leading 20 points on the season.
Tavares has a goal in each of the last two meetings with Nashville.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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