The Anaheim Ducks normally wouldn’t look forward to seeing the Nashville Predators on the other side of the ice.
However, the Predators are the only team the Ducks have beaten in 2020.
The teams will meet for the third time this season on Thursday night in Nashville, with Anaheim desperate for a win after dropping its past four games by a combined score of 15-6.
The Ducks beat the Predators 5-4 in a shootout in Anaheim on Jan. 5, but they’re just 1-6-1 since Dec. 29. They rank second-to-last in the NHL in scoring at 2.43 goals a game, the same spot where they finished last season (2.39).
“We’re not getting timely goals right now,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf told reporters following a 4-1 road loss to the St. Louis Blues on Monday. “It makes it even more of a struggle when you’re trying to get things going.”
The Ducks are 22-25-3 against the Predators since the 2010-11 season, losing all three playoff series against Nashville in that span.
The Predators have experienced their own struggles this season, and they fired coach Peter Laviolette the morning after the loss in Anaheim last week.
Nashville lost its first game under new coach John Hynes but bounced back with two straight victories before losing 4-2 at Edmonton on Tuesday night.
The highlight against the Oilers was the ultra-rare, lacrosse-style goal from Nashville’s Filip Forsberg. The forward brought the puck behind the Edmonton net and then lifted it with his stick blade as he came around the other side, banking the puck off the side of goalie Mike Smith and into the net for one of the top NHL highlights of the season.
According to NHL Stats, Forsberg is the second player in NHL history to score a goal with that move, after Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov pulled it off in October and again in December.
“It’s something that I’ve tried a couple of times,” Forsberg told reporters afterward. “It’s cool that it went in, but at the same time, it would have been a lot sweeter if we were to win.”
The Predators got a key player back against the Oilers with the return of defenseman Dante Fabbro, who had been out since sustaining an upper-body injury on Jan. 1.
Fabbro blocked a team-high five shots against Edmonton.
Anaheim’s struggles on offense have been compounded by the loss of the team’s leading goal-scorer, Jakob Silfverberg, who is not on the five-game road trip after sustaining an upper-body injury in a 4-3 loss against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 7.
Adam Henrique, Anaheim’s second-leading goal-scorer (14), has gone scoreless since totaling two goals and an assist against the Predators.
The continuing lack of offense has been exacerbated by recent lapses on defense that have led to easy scoring opportunities.
“To have confidence, to earn confidence, you have to play well and do things right on a regular basis,” Getzlaf said. “It’s hard to get that momentum and gather that confidence when you shoot yourself in the foot or a bounce doesn’t go your way.”