Max Pacioretty believes that the Montreal Canadiens haven't forgotten how to play hockey, but he has mostly forgotten how to score.
The club captain has failed to find the back of the net in seven of the last eight games, with the Canadiens losing those seven contests ahead of Monday night's visit to the Nashville Predators.
Montreal (20-11-3) began the season with nine victories but has lost seven of eight, with Pacioretty's only tally in that span in a 3-1 victory over Ottawa last Saturday. The Canadiens have lost the games in which he has not scored.
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''We started the year with nine wins in a row,'' said Pacioretty, who has a team-high 14 goals with seven in the nine-game unbeaten start. ''I don't know why we forgot how to play the game, but we have to find answers really quick.''
Dale Weise is second on the club with 10 goals, with one in his last 14 games. Brendan Gallagher, who has nine goals, is out with an injury, while Tomas Fleischmann has scored one of his eight goals in the last 12 games.
The Canadiens have scored three or fewer in their last 11 games and have been outscored 12-3 in a three-game slide
Montreal's concern level increased after Saturday's 6-2 loss at Dallas. The Canadiens gave up eight power-play chances for the first time in two seasons.
''We lost some games at home that we believe we were playing some really good hockey,'' coach Michel Therrien said. ''It's not the same thing tonight.''
Mike Condon, who has been filling in for Carey Price, stopped 17 of 23 shots before Dustin Tokarski replaced him. Condon has dropped five straight starts.
The Predators (16-11-6) ended a three-game slide with Saturday's 3-2 win over Minnesota as they set their sights on improving to 5-0-3 in the last eight meetings with the Canadiens.
“Definitely it's something to build off of but we're not going to get ahead of ourselves,” defenseman Shea Weber said. “We're not world beaters by any means. That's a good solid game for us but we've got a tough opponent in Montreal, who's obviously fighting for a lot right now because they've been struggling lately too.”
Weber had assists on first-period goals by Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro as Nashville scored first in a third straight game. This one was the first in that span in which the Predators went up by two.
“It's just a different game when you can extend your lead after you score the first goal,” Ribeiro said. “I think that's the perfect example today.”
Pekka Rinne figures to start for the Predators. He's 4-1-1 with a 1.32 goals-against average in six starts against the Canadiens.
He would be up against a struggling Montreal power-play unit. The Canadiens got one such tally from Daniel Carr on Saturday, although they are 1 for 27 in their last eight games.
Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban has a team-high 22 assists. His 1.4 giveaways per game represent the NHL's highest mark.