The Phoenix Coyotes won their final game before the All-Star break by recording a season-high six goals, but they’ve had serious trouble scoring since.
The Coyotes look to avoid being shut out for the third straight time Tuesday night when they visit the Nashville Predators.
Phoenix (24-22-5) has been blanked an NHL-leading eight times this season. The Coyotes were shut out in back-to-back games Jan. 4 and 6, but responded with five wins in their next seven contests, averaging 3.4 goals during that stretch.
They capped the run with a 6-3 victory over Western Conference-leading Detroit just before the break, but that offensive rhythm seems to have disappeared during the week off. Phoenix hasn’t scored in 142 minutes, 26 seconds, going back to a second-period goal in a 7-3 loss to Anaheim last Tuesday.
“The reality is there’s still 30 games to go,” coach Wayne Gretzky said. “There’s still a lot of hockey left. We need to turn it around quickly.”
Gretzky’s team is 0-for-13 on the power play in the last two games, and 29th in the league in power-play percentage at 13.1.
“The power play let us down,” leading scorer Shane Doan said after Phoenix lost 2-0 to Buffalo on Saturday. “That falls on the guys who are the offensive leaders and get the opportunity on the power play. We’re the ones who should take the heat on this one. We had some better traffic in front and had some opportunities to score and we didn’t.”
Doan has 20 goals and 28 assists on the season.
The Coyotes beat the Predators 2-1 on Dec. 18 behind two goals from Kyle Turris to improve to 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings. Phoenix is 1-5-2 with one tie in its previous nine trips to Nashville, however, averaging 2.2 goals in those contests.
Nashville (22-24-3) returns home after closing a three-game Canadian road trip with a 2-1 win over Edmonton on Sunday. J.P. Dumont scored for the third straight game and Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for his 12th win of the season.
The Predators also beat Vancouver and lost to Calgary during the trip.
“We’re trying to claw ourselves back into the group,” said coach Barry Trotz, whose team has fallen toward the bottom of the Western Conference but is still in the playoff mix. “There are teams that we have to catch on this trip and getting two out of three in Canada is pretty tough. The two teams that we’re really realistically chasing are Vancouver and Edmonton. So we got the right games.”
Nashville is six points behind Phoenix. The Coyotes are in a five-way tie for sixth place with 53 points.
The Predators play six of their next eight at home, where they’ve lost five of seven. Rinne, who’s started all three of Nashville’s games since the break, has never faced the Coyotes.