The Nashville Predators have improved their record in each season since 2001-02, but they'll need to overcome a slow start to top their franchise-record 110 points from last year. (Game Notes)
The Predators hope to begin turning their season around and snap a five-game losing streak on Tuesday at the Los Angeles Kings.
Nashville has made significant strides since totaling 69 points in 2001-02, improving its record each year.
The Predators topped 100 points for the first time with a 49-25-8 finish in 2005-06, then tied for the Western Conference lead with 51 wins during last season's franchise record-setting season.
After opening this season with back-to-back victories, however, Nashville (2-5-0) has been outscored 23-9 while dropping five straight games. The Predators - who haven't lost six straight games in regulation since March 10-21, 2002 - are at the bottom of the Central Division with four points, tied for fewest in the West.
"This is not a good start and we don't want to fall too far behind," goalie Chris Mason said.
Mason emerged as a candidate to become an everyday starter last season, going 24-11-4 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage in 40 games, prompting Nashville to trade veteran Tomas Vokoun to Florida in the offseason.
So far in 2007-08, though, Mason is 2-5-0 with a 3.38 GAA and a .882 save percentage.
He gave up two goals in Nashville's 3-0 loss at San Jose on Saturday as the Predators dropped to 0-3-0 on the road. They went 0-for-6 on the power play, and are 0-for-12 with the man advantage away from home this season.
"The effort was there but we didn't capitalize on our shots," said Jason Arnott, the team's leading scorer with seven points. "We had some power play opportunities that we didn't make them."
Arnott has five goals and three assists in his last five games against the Kings. Mason has also had success against them, going 3-0-1 with two shutouts and a 0.99 GAA in five career games - four starts.
Los Angeles goalie Jason LaBarbera, meanwhile, is coming off a strong outing against Vancouver on Saturday. He stopped 26 shots to lead the Kings (3-6-0) to a 4-2 victory - their second win in three games following a five-game skid.
Los Angeles entered this season without a clear-cut No. 1 goaltender, but LaBarbera has become the favorite to claim that job.
"I know it's there," said LaBarbera, one of eight netminders used by the Kings since the start of last season. "I know it's an opportunity for me. I struggled a bit early but hopefully I can just build off this and take it from here because I know I'm capable of doing it."
LaBarbera is 1-1-0 with a 2.97 GAA in two career starts against the Predators, but hasn't faced them since 2005.
Kings forward Michael Cammalleri, the team's leading scorer in 2006-07, scored Friday's go-ahead goal on the power play. He has six goals and three assists in 13 career games versus the Predators, including three goals and one assist in his last two games against them.
The Kings lost three of four meetings to Nashville last season, including both matchups at Staples Center.