To say the Nashville Predators are struggling on the road would be a very big understatement.
The Predators hope to their post their first win away from home this season as they begin a five-game trip against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.
The Predators went 23-15-3 on the road last season as they set a franchise record with 110 points. A very tumultuous offseason, however, has dramatically altered Nashville’s roster and the team seems unlikely to match that success in 2007-08.
Not only have the Predators lost their first four road games, they’ve been outscored by a remarkable 16-2 margin. The Preds have been shut out in their last two road contests - a 3-0 loss to San Jose on Oct. 20 and a 6-0 defeat to Los Angeles three days later.
Nashville (4-6-0) also began 2003-04 with four consecutive road losses before winning its fifth game. The Predators went winless in their first nine road games the previous season.
The loss to the Kings was the sixth straight for Nashville, but the Preds have since rebounded with back-to-back home victories.
“Smithson’s goal doesn’t go in the net if we aren’t driving the net,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “They are all three big guys out there. They did a great job defensively against Florida against every line they faced. They were going to the hard areas and paying the price.”
Rookie Dan Ellis made 24 saves to win his second straight start.
“It was nice to see our guys play well,” Ellis said. “The losing streak was a morale killer. We have learned what we need to do. You can win six in a row just as easy as we lost six in a row.”
With Ellis winning consecutive starts, Trotz could go with the rookie again Tuesday or switch back to struggling Chris Mason, who’s 0-6-0 with a 5.09 goals-against average in his last six games.
Nashville also visits Vancouver, Edmonton, Chicago and Detroit on this trip.
“We have a five-game road trip coming up and it is going to be a huge task - going to western Canada is never easy,” Trotz said. “We’ve got to get some success on the road - getting a road win will be our next block to go through.”
Calgary is usually one of the toughest places in the NHL to win, but the Predators are 4-0-1 in their last five visits there.
The Flames (5-3-3) were unable to protect a late third-period lead Friday and lost 3-2 in overtime to Colorado.
“It’s a game we should have had,” captain Jarome Iginla said. “We had chances to make it 3-1 and we didn’t. It came back to bite us.”
After leading the NHL with 30 home wins last season, the Flames are struggling to match that success in 2007-08, going 3-2-2 at Pengrowth Saddledome.
Daymond Langkow has three goals and five assists during a five-game point streak and leads Calgary with eight goals. He had a goal and two assists in the Flames’ 7-4 victory at Nashville on Oct. 13.
Iginla scored one goal and set up another in that win, giving him five goals and five assists during a six-game point streak against Nashville.