With back-to-back wins to start the season, prospects were looking up for the Nashville Predators. Very little has gone right since, though.
The Predators try to avoid matching a franchise record with their seventh straight loss Thursday night when they visit an Ottawa Senators team seeking its sixth victory in seven games.
After missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2003, Nashville (2-5-1) got off to a fast start to the 2009-10 season by scoring six goals in winning its first two games. It has been unable to build on those victories, though, totaling six goals during an 0-5-1 drought.
A big reason for the Predators' struggles has been a nonexistent power play.
Nashville went 0 for 3 with the man advantage in Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Boston and is 1 for 27 in such situations this season. The Predators' lone power-play goal came in the season opener Oct. 3, and the team's seven-game stretch without a score with the man advantage matches a franchise record set in the final seven games of the 2002-03 season. Nashville was 0-5-1 with one tie in that stretch.
Nashville, in the midst of its longest losing streak since Oct. 10-23, 2007, is also in danger of matching the franchise record of seven consecutive losses set from Nov. 20-Dec. 2, 1999.
Making matter worse for the Predators, leading scorer Jason Arnott was placed on the injured reserve Monday with a left arm injury and is expected to be out for up to two weeks.
With Arnott sidelined, Patric Hornqvist is the only healthy Nashville player that's scored more than one goal this season. The second-year winger scored both his goals in a win over Colorado on Oct. 8.
Nobody on Nashville's roster managed to find the back of the net in its last game against the Senators, a 2-0 loss Feb. 16.
Ottawa (5-2-0) beat Montreal 3-1 on Saturday for its fifth victory in six games.
Alex Kovalev had a goal and an assist in his first game against the Canadiens since leaving Montreal to sign a two-year, $10 million contract with Ottawa on July 6. Kovalev's 397th goal of his 17-season NHL career put the Senators up by two with 8:32 remaining and was loudly applauded by the Bell Centre crowd.
"It means a lot," said Kovalev, the MVP of the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal. "It's appreciation for what I've done for the city. I really appreciate all the support the fans gave me."
After failing to record a point in his first three games with the Senators, Kovalev has tallied three goals and an assist in his last four.
With Kovalev, Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek accounting for 10 of the team's 22 goals, Ottawa is finding success even with Jason Spezza still seeking his first goal of the season. Spezza was second on the team with 32 goals in 2008-09.
While Kovalev and company are leading the offense, the defense is doing a solid job, yielding two goals or fewer in five of the last six games.
Pascal Leclaire made 27 saves Saturday, the second consecutive game in which he has allowed just one goal. In his only start against the Predators last season, Leclaire stopped 24 shots in a 5-3 victory for Columbus.