Power Play: Better game, still no goals
Three straight games, zero goals to show for it. I almost think Ribeiro's second-straight game with a game misconduct was the highlight of the game for Nashville. It kind of sums up the Predators frustrations in one ten-minute penalty.
For the third straight game, the Nashville Predators (11-6-3) found themselves shut out offensively.
Even after Nashville played an overall great game, the New York Rangers (16-3-2) found enough to pot three goals in under 20 shots on the night.
Not a way to start
You really can't make this kind of stuff up.
Nashville spent over seven minutes of the first period on the power play -- with a little under a minute carrying over to the second period -- and found nearly the same thing they've seen over the last two games as they did at the beginning of this one: a whole bunch of nothing.
With 20 total shot attempts directed towards Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, the Predators had eight actually reach him, seven blocked and five completely missing the net.
Most notably, though, was Nashville's inability to accurately find an open slot for shot attempts, having only five of those 20 shot attempts be credited as as scoring chances -- two of those as high-danger scoring chances.
They've had their fair share of difficulty over the past three games, however Nashville's inability to register any goal over the previous 10 periods is more laughable than frustrating.
What's even worse is how the Predators are seeing opponents easily convert on the scoring chances they're finding -- whether that's on Rinne, who's quite possibly being overplayed right now, or on bad defensive breakdowns, like the four-on-one Nashville allowed for New York's first goal of the night.
The chances have been there. The shots are coming in bunches. Man-advantages are plentiful. How in the world do the Predators get stuck in goal-scoring droughts like the one they've been through?
A franchise record obliterated
Nearly three years ago, Nashville set an all-time franchise record for its longest goal-scoring drought at 176:18.
That number was broken during the second period of their game against the Rangers on Monday night and increased to a running total of 213:47 through 10 periods of hockey and spanning three games: against Columbus on Friday, Minnesota on Saturday and New York on Monday.
Those aren't the kinds of records you want to see broken any time soon, however sometimes it just happens. For Nashville, it comes in a moment where regardless of how great the scoring chance is, it's just not going in the net.
What should happen versus what will happen
Here's the short version of what happened against the Rangers on Monday night: Nashville played a very good game, couldn't notch a goal and ended up shutout for the third straight game.
Personally, I don't think much needs to be adjusted with the current lineup for the Predators other than perhaps doing something about forward Mike Ribeiro -- who's having seemingly having trouble not earning himself a game misconduct in the third period lately, which I'll touch on here in a moment.
What will most likely happen prior to Wednesday night's game against the Buffalo Sabres will be a fair reshuffling of the lines to try and provide some type of scoring punch to Nashville's lineup.
Buffalo isn't scoring very many goals either, however they're not allowing very many in the same regard. Even if Nashville alters its lines prior to the game against the Sabres, I don't think this scoring drought goes four straight games -- that would just be absurd, more so than it already is.
Rewinding back to Ribeiro, there comes a point for a coaching staff when it's time to sit a player down, no matter the age, to talk about their attitude.
Maybe attitude isn't necessarily the best word to describe what's going on in Ribeiro's late-game actions so far this season, but it sure hasn't been positive. As of Monday evening, Ribeiro leads the NHL with three misconduct penalties, all coming from interactions with the officials.
Here's the thing: it's not Ribeiro's job to voice his opinion to the referees during game action, it's the job of Nashville's on-ice leadership group to do so. That primarily encapsulates Shea Weber via rule 6.1 in the NHL's rule book, however also includes to a lesser extent Roman Josi, Mike Fisher and James Neal.
I'm not sure why Ribeiro feels the need to get his point across to the officiating staff when things aren't going Nashville's way, but it needs to be addressed by the team -- regardless of how it's handled.
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers -- There were plenty of times on Monday night where the Predators should have had at least one or two outright goals, but Lundqvist somehow stopped every puck headed towards him. 31 saves on 31 shots for the King to send Nashville to its third straight loss by shutout.
Kevin Hayes, New York Rangers -- While Derek Stepan really put the game out of reach with the second goal of the game, Hayes' power play marker midway through the third gave him a team-high second point of the night and put the finishing touches on an all-around fantastic outing.
Rick Nash, New York Rangers -- Nash has been on fire lately and it didn't stop against the Predators. Breaking in on the left side of Rinne during a rare four-on-one, Nash sniped it past Rinne to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead -- which coincidentally would be more than enough for the win.