Back-to-back shutouts? It happened, but not in the way you'd hope for. The Nashville Predators (11-5-3) endured their second straight 4-0 defeat, being dropped by the Minnesota Wild (11-5-3) after a frustrating night of hockey on Saturday evening.
Inability to capitalize early
Frustrating might not be the best word to describe Nashville's hot-and-cold scoring abilities over the past handful of games.
Some nights they can score at will, other nights they could quite literally throw a kitchen sink at the opposing net and it would find a way to magnetically repulse itself away.
Over the course of all six periods between the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night and the Wild on Saturday night, Nashville combined for 128 separate shot attempts and zero goals to show for it.
Facing off against Sergei Bobrovsky and Devan Dubnyk isn't exactly a walk in the park, however the Predators have had plenty of chances without finding a way to capitalize on any of them.
Yet, Nashville has to find a way to make those chances count when they have the opportunity to do so.
What could be even more discouraging for the Predators is their first and second period defensive prowess was left exploited by both Columbus and Minnesota.
Nashville ranked in the top ten in the NHL for fewest goals allowed in each of the first and second periods so far this season, but allowed six goals in each of the first two periods against both the Blue Jackets and Wild.
Whether it's just poor defensive play, poor shot choices or just all-around poor luck, the Predators have to find better ways to capitalize.
Possession isn't the problem, but shine a light into Nashville's smattering of issues
A friendly follower on Twitter commented to me during the Predators game against the Wild on Saturday night that Nashville had below average possession statistics lately.
While I don't believe that advanced metrics tell the whole story of how a team functions, they do tell part of the story.
Per War-On-Ice, Nashville has failed to reach an even-strength PDO (on-ice shooting percentage plus on-ice save percentage) of at least 100 in only eight of its 19 games -- seven of those eight were losses, with the October 17th game against Ottawa being the only non-loss among the bunch.
Most don't like to really place a lot of stock into PDO as a "luck" statistic, however if you take if for what it really is then it makes sense as to why some praise it for a measure of "luck": it's a cumulative total of shooting and save percentages.
To make things worse, Nashville's even-strength PDO against Columbus on Friday was a measly 75.0 -- its lowest of the season. Pekka Rinne had 14 saves on 18 shots and the Predators had zero goals on 39 shots of their own.
Against Minnesota, it was a lot of the same: an even-strength PDO of 88.2 with Rinne collecting only 23 saves on 27 shots and the team throwing 23 pucks at the opposing net.
That, however, isn't the tip of the iceberg.
Nashville's Corsi For percentage of total shots between both teams -- across all on-ice situations -- has been over 50 percent for all but seven of its games this season.
Here's the big kicker there: they carry a 6-0-1 record in games where they fall under a 50 percent Corsi For percentage across all on-ice situations. Strange, isn't it? That Nashville can be so successful when behind the eight-ball, but only has a 5-5-2 record when ahead of their opponents.
It doesn't tell the whole story, but it does illuminate some of the weird things going on this season for the Predators after 19 games.
Peaks and valleys
There are going to be moments in every season for every team where things go swimmingly and other times where nothing will ever seem to go right again.
A little over 10 days ago, the Predators were putting the finishing touches on a 7-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets -- coming in a week where the team put up two separate seven-goal outings.
The hockey gods giveth, though, and taketh away just as quickly. After Saturday night's loss to the Wild, Nashville had lost back-to-back games for the first time since March 2nd and 3rd and was shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since early November in the 2013-14 season.
Here's the thing: it's going to happen.
I'm not trying to sit here and tell you that things are perfect for the Predators, because it's quite obvious that they aren't right now, but it's not as bad as it really could be. Nashville still has 11 wins in 19 games this season and has more points on the year than the majority of the remaining teams in the Western Conference.
Both offensively and defensively, there remains much to be desired. Rinne can't be expected to bail the team out every time the team collapses in front of him and can't put the puck in the net.
The most important thing to remember is that it's not even December yet, leaving plenty of time to fix the mistakes.
If I could offer one piece of advice: just sit back and relax. There are 60-plus games left in the 2014-15 season and things are only getting heated up.
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild -- I'm sure plenty of Predators fans weren't really excited to see Suter pile up the points against Nashville and score his first goal against his former team, but Suter is one of the better defensemen in the league and those things are going to happen. A goal and two assists for the stellar defender.
Thomas Vanek, Minnesota Wild -- I'm partial to players that stay with the action until the whistle blows. Vanek did a fine job of that tonight against Nashville, redirecting a puck into Rinne's pads. While the Predators netminder thought he had it covered, Vanek noticed it squeaking through his pads and put it into the net.
Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild -- Stopping all 23 shots he faced on net, Dubnyk was where he needed to be at every point against Nashville. There wasn't many quality scoring chances for the Predators, but Dubnyk made sure that none of them went into the net.