Peter Laviolette has seen a pair of slow starts derail his bid to become the second United States-born head coach to win 600 games in the NHL. After dropping two in a row and four of their last five (1-3-1), the Nashville Predators hope a stronger start leads to better results on Monday when they open a three-game road trip against the Colorado Avalanche.
"That's all in the attitude. That's what you bring to the rink and bring to the game. It has to be better," Laviolette told reporters after sluggish starts led to both Thursday's 5-1 setback to Winnipeg and Saturday's 4-2 loss to Florida. Nashville didn't have that issue in its two encounters with Colorado this season, as Colton Sissons highlighted his hat trick with two first-period goals in a 4-1 win on Nov. 7 before Ryan Hartman also tallied in the first of a 3-2 setback on Nov. 27. The Avalanche made up for an uneventful first period on Saturday as Mikko Rantanen tallied twice to highlight a franchise record-tying six goals in the second during a 7-1 romp over Los Angeles. The 22-year-old Finn (club-best 50 assists, 73 points) boosted his point total to 11 (six goals, five assists) in his last seven games before exiting the contest with a lower-body injury, although coach Jared Bednar and captain Gabriel Landeskog told reporters that the decision was made for precautionary reasons.
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ABOUT THE PREDATORS (28-18-4): Nick Bonino echoed Laviolette's displeasure with the team's slow starts after he joined Austin Watson by collecting a goal and an assist versus the Panthers in the third period. "It wasn't good enough, and a lot of our problems stem from our starts," the 30-year-old Bonino told reporters. "We feel games out, don't compete enough right away, and then we have to play catch up. When we turn it on, we're really hard to play with, but in this league it's too little to late sometimes." Bonino, who had three assists in the first two meetings with Nashville, resides one goal shy of 100 for his career.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (22-18-8): Landeskog had a goal and an assist against the Kings to record his fourth multi-point performance in the last seven outings for Colorado, which posted just its third win in 13 games (3-8-2). The 26-year-old Swede leads the team with 29 goals, although he has been held off the scoresheet in both encounters with the Predators this season. Nathan MacKinnon, who has scored twice and set up another versus Nashville in 2018-19, notched a pair of assists against Los Angeles for his second straight multi-point effort and fourth this month.
1. Nashville's 29th-ranked power play has failed to convert on its last 21 opportunities.
2. Colorado C Carl Soderberg has five points (four goals, one assist) in his last three outings while D Tyson Barrie is riding a three-game point and assist streak.
3. Predators C Ryan Johansen, who is the team leader in assists (34) and points (42), will serve the second contest of his two-game suspension for a high-sticking incident involving Winnipeg's Mark Scheifele on Thursday.