Scoring has been a weakness for the Nashville Predators all season, and the problem was particularly evident as they headed into the All-Star break.
The Predators return to action Wednesday night as they try to end a three-game losing streak in a road matchup with the slumping Vancouver Canucks.
A season removed from its fourth consecutive playoff appearance, Nashville (20-23-3) is in fourth place in the Central Division with 43 points - one more than St. Louis, which has the lowest point total in the Western Conference.
The Predators’ struggles have been due largely to their lack of offense, as they’re last in the West with 111 goals and have converted 13.7 percent of their power-play opportunities - among the lowest in the NHL.
Captain Jason Arnott - a two-time 30-goal scorer - leads Nashville with 15 goals, but only four Predators have scored at least 10. All-Star defenseman Shea Weber has 14, but forward J.P. Dumont, who topped the team with a career-high 29 goals last season, has been held to eight.
The Predators have totaled 24 goals in going 3-9-0 in their previous 12 games, and five goals during their three-game skid. Radek Bonk provided the only offense in a 3-1 home loss to New Jersey on Jan. 19 in Nashville’s final contest before the break.
Arnott hopes the week off will help the Predators as they open a three-game road trip through Canada.
“(We) talked about it a lot, and now it’s just going out and doing it. We hashed out a lot of our issues. Now it’s just time to cut down our mistakes and capitalize on our opportunities and just keep working as a team. That’s all we can ask,” he said.
The Predators can start by ending their scoring problems versus the Canucks. They’ve managed eight goals in the last six meetings - all losses - and have been limited to two goals in three 2008-09 matchups. Nashville will be trying to avoid being swept by Vancouver in a season series for the first time.
Arnott has 17 goals and 21 assists in 49 games against the Canucks, though he’s has been held off the scoresheet in his last four, most recently in a 2-1 home loss on New Year’s Day.
Vancouver (22-19-7), though, wasn’t nearly that stingy heading into the break. The Canucks have surrendered 27 goals during a 0-4-2 skid that’s their longest since losing seven in a row from Dec. 26, 1998-Jan. 6, 1999.
All-Star Roberto Luongo made 27 saves last Tuesday, but allowed the tying goal with 40 seconds left in regulation in a 2-1 overtime defeat at West-leading San Jose. It was his third game back after missing almost two months with a groin injury.
The Canucks are 1-4-4 in their last nine games, but Luongo was encouraged by the latest performance.
“We worked like animals for 59 minutes and played exactly the way we wanted to play against them,” Luongo said. “We need to finish games, but we’re starting to play well as a team.”
Vancouver is opening a four-game stretch at GM Place as it seeks to end a franchise-record seven-game home losing streak.
Luongo is 6-3-2 with a 1.71 GAA in 11 home games this season. Since joining the Canucks before the 2006-07 season, he’s 3-2-0 with a 1.61 GAA and two shutouts in five home starts versus Nashville, which has lost three of its last four visits to Vancouver.