The Nashville Predators are not looking like the team that got off to their best start in team history.
Frustrated by injuries and a lack of discipline, the Predators will look to avoid their third consecutive loss for the first time in a month when they play the Florida Panthers at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.
The short-handed Predators tallied 11 penalties in a 4-3 loss Saturday to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nashville averages 21.1 penalty minutes per game— second-worst in the league behind the Chicago Blackhawks—and allowed two power-play goals in the loss to the Lightning.
“You’re sort of surprised that we have the record we have because we take too many penalties,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “You keep putting yourself behind the eight ball. I’m sick and tired of it. We’re going to change that, there’s no question because it’s costing us games. As soon as we get healthy, we’re going to sit some guys out. That’s a definite.”
The Predators are just 1-for-14 on the power play over the last two games.
Nashville posted a season-low 16 shots against the Lightning, which was the fewest since Jan. 25, 2004, when they had 16 against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Panthers have lost four straight games and 18 of their last 21 including a 3-1 setback Saturday to the Los Angeles Kings.
Joe Nieuwendyk, who signed with Florida in August, tallied his 537th career goal in the setback, Florida’s record 12th straight on the road.
“That’s a team we should beat, and we don’t. That just shows you where we are. I mean, we have so far to go, it’s not even funny,” the 39-year-old center said. “We find ways to lose, and that’s the sign of not a very good hockey club right now.”
Florida has won three of its last five at home.
The Panthers have not scored a power-play goal in the last two games (0-for-8) and have allowed opponents at least one power-play goal in eight straight games.
Leading-scorer Olli Jokinen has not scored a goal in four games and has just one assist for the struggling Florida offense.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 12): Predators - 39 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Central Division. Panthers - 22 points, 4th place, 16 PB, Southeast Division.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 12): Predators - Power play: 18.1 percent (32 for 176), 13th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.5 percent (161 for 186), 4th. Panthers - Power play: 13.9 percent (23 for 165), 28th. Penalty killing: 79.4 percent (155 for 195), 25th.
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 0-0-1.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 5-3-3 on the road; Panthers - 7-6-1 at home.