While the Nashville Predators managed to hide their offensive deficiencies during their season-best winning streak, they haven't been able to overcome them lately.
Nashville, however, may be catching the San Jose Sharks at the right time.
The Predators hope to jump-start their offense on Tuesday night and send the visiting Sharks to a sixth straight loss.
After scoring 10 goals during a 1-2-3 start, Nashville (5-3-4) responded with four straight victories and appeared to break out of its scoring funk with nine goals in the final two games of that run.
The Predators, though, have taken a step back offensively lately, totaling one goal during back-to-back losses, including Sunday's 3-0 defeat to Chicago.
Nashville has already been shut out three times in 12 games after getting blanked only three times all last season.
It hasn't helped that the team ranks last in the league with 253 shots after finishing with 17 on Sunday.
"We didn't really challenge them very well,' forward Mike Fisher said. "It wasn't our A-game no question."
Martin Erat, who had a team-best 58 points last season, and Colin Wilson lead the Predators with just three goals apiece.
Erat missed Nashville's 2-1 shootout win at San Jose on Feb. 2 with a foot injury, but looks to extend a four-game point streak in the series.
Sergei Kostitsyn scored the team's lone goal against the Sharks, while Pekka Rinne had 26 saves to help the Predators win for the third time in the last four meetings (3-0-1).
Nashville, which ranks near the bottom of the NHL with 1.83 goals per game, may have a difficult time turning things around in this meeting.
Antti Niemi is expected to start the second stop on San Jose's six-game road trip after backup Thomas Greiss struggled in a 6-2 loss at last-place Columbus on Monday. The Sharks (7-3-2) had allowed an NHL-low 1.82 goals per game heading into the contest.
Niemi is 6-1-2 with a 1.82 goals-against average in nine starts. He's also 4-2-2 with a 1.98 GAA in his last eight against the Predators, and stopped 23 of 24 shots in the first meeting this season.
Monday's loss was the fifth straight for San Jose following a franchise-best 7-0-0 start.
"It's pretty simple," coach Todd McLellan said. "The team that works the hardest wins."
San Jose averaged 3.86 goals per game in its first seven, but has scored just seven times in its last five contests.
Patrick Marleau, however, may have gotten back on track after breaking his six-game goalless drought with his 10th of the season Monday.
Marleau has done some damage in Nashville with 11 goals and 30 points in 26 career regular-season games.
Joe Pavelski also scored against the Blue Jackets, giving him six goals in his last eight games. He's also scored three in his last two trips to Nashville.
Pavelski's goal was only San Jose's second in its last 28 power-play opportunities over the last seven games. The Sharks were 12 for 32 in their first five contests.
Rinne had won four straight starts with a 0.72 GAA before losing to Chicago. He's won three of his last four games against the Sharks with a 1.66 GAA.
The Associated Press News Service
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