The Blue Jackets lost 1-0 at Chicago on Sunday to fall into last place in the Central Division with a 5-9-1 record.
That defeat prompted general manager Doug MacLean to fire Gerard Gallant on Monday, and assistant Gary Agnew was named interim coach Tuesday.
“I’m going to do what I do best and hopefully get (to) the talent that’s in there because there’s a lot of talent in that room,” Agnew said. “We have a chance, still, of doing what we set out to do and it’ll be up to me to try and extract that from them.”
Agnew spent six seasons as coach of Columbus’ AHL affiliate in Syracuse before becoming the Jackets’ top assistant this season.
Columbus’ poor offense, which has scored an NHL-low 33 goals, appears to have been the motivating factor in the coaching change.
“That’s the thing Gerard and I talked about more than anything lately. I think the team defensively has been fairly sound and solid,” MacLean said. “We’re both just mesmerized why we haven’t scored. There’s six guys on that team that have scored in excess of 22 to 40 goals in the NHL and yet they haven’t been able to score.”
Three of those players—David Vyborny, Rich Nash and Nikolai Zherdev—lead the team with only four goals each. Nash, who had 72 goals over the previous two seasons, has scored once in the last 12 games.
Zherdev is hoping to snap a seven-game goal drought and Vyborny, the club’s all-time leading scorer with 94 goals, has not scored in four contests.
The Predators (10-4-1), meanwhile, defeated Colorado 1-0 on Saturday for their sixth win in seven games.
Chris Mason made a career-high 42 saves in the win to prevent Nashville from losing back-to-back contests for the first time since starting the season with three consecutive losses.
On Wednesday, Mason is likely to assume his backup role to Tomas Vokoun, who went 4-1-1 with a 3.01 goals-against average versus Columbus last season.
Goaltending has been a key to the Predators’ success this season as seven of their 10 wins have come by one goal. Vokoun is 7-3-1 with a 2.81 GAA, while Mason is 3-1-0 with a 1.97 GAA.
The Predators have gone 22-for-24 on the penalty kill over the past five games, and stopped all seven of Colorado’s chances with the man advantage Saturday.
Nashville leading scorer Steve Sullivan will try to avoid being held without a point for a season-high third consecutive game, which would also match his longest drought from last season.
Sullivan had seven points in seven games against Columbus in 2005-06, helping Nashville go 5-2-1 in the season series. He has 11 goals and 20 assists in 27 appearances against the Jackets.