NHL Hockey

Predators look to end losing streak against Rangers

For their return to the ice Thursday night after a four-day Christmas break, the Nashville Predators got a pair of reinforcements.

What they didn't get was a much-needed win.

Despite outshooting Dallas 49-30, including a total of nine shots on net from Viktor Arvidsson and P.K. Subban in their return after absences of a month-and-a-half each, Nashville couldn't get a puck past Anton Khudobin. It cost them a 2-0 defeat, their fifth straight loss.

The Predators hope to snap their longest skid since January of 2016 when they host the New York Rangers Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

With a road-heavy schedule awaiting it in January, Nashville could use these two points. To hear coach Peter Laviolette talk after Thursday night's game, success might not be very far away, even though his team again failed to get the result.

"We were working to create," Laviolette said. "It wasn't a lack of effort or opportunity. I think when you put that many pucks on net, you're looking to do the right things. We'll go back and nit-pick it. We'll try to find some times we could have been better. It's frustrating."

In spite of the loss, the Predators (22-15-2) remain four points behind Winnipeg for first place in the Central Division and have four meetings left with the Jets, including an unusual two-game home series with them January 15 and 17. So there's still plenty of time to play catchup.

Subban, whose first game back from an upper-body injury suffered in mid-November offered three shots but a minus two rating, said Nashville can build on its ability to marry puck possession with shots on net in Thursday night's defeat.

"We put nearly 50 shots on net and not a lot of teams can do that," he said. "We did some things well. I think the two goals were tough ones and we would like to have them back. We had a lot of chances but just couldn't bury them.

While the Predators search for consistency and points, New York (15-14-7) has managed to pick up a point in seven of its last nine games. But the Rangers have just two wins to show for the stretch following a4-3 overtime loss Thursday night in Madison Square Garden to Columbus.

Chris Kreider's goal at 12:06 of the third period gave New York a late edge, but the Blue Jackets equalized via Zach Werenski at 17:40 and then skated off 31 seconds into overtime on Pierre-Luc Dubois' 14th marker of the year.

"We can't let this get in the way of moving on and getting ready for Nashville," said first-year coach David Quinn. "There were situations where we had a chance to get the puck out and didn't do what we were supposed to. It's about learning how to win."

The Rangers have struggled across the board, ranking 25th in goals (100) and 23rd in goals against (117). Their penalty kill hasn't helped, ranking 26th.

The teams met on October 4 in their season opener, with the Predators earning a 3-2 win.

Updated December 28, 2018

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