The Nashville Predators had arguably their finest performance a little over a week ago against the struggling Anaheim Ducks.
The Predators will try for a repeat when they visit Anaheim on Sunday night as they aim to secure the best 11-game start in franchise history.
Nashville (7-1-2) recorded its most lopsided victory this season with a 5-1 rout of Anaheim on Oct. 22. The Predators waited until the second period to start their scoring then poured it on with four consecutive goals before the Ducks (1-7-2) responded.
"I thought we were good from start to finish tonight. It was a really good effort. They came out strong in the first period, and we had to be ready to play with them. After that, we seemed to get better as the game went on," coach Peter Laviolette said.
Ryan Ellis and Colin Wilson each had a goal and two assists in only Nashville’s second win in the last 10 games in the series. The Predators have followed with two losses in their last three games but have earned a point in each.
They lost 4-3 in overtime Saturday against red-hot Los Angeles in the second of four consecutive road contests, failing to build on Ellis’ tying goal in the third period. James Neal also tallied his seventh goal in seven games.
Nashville has one win in its last five trips to Anaheim, going 1-2-2 with a shootout loss Jan. 4 and a 4-2 defeat March 15.
If they can earn a win Sunday, the Predators would top their 17 points in 11 games from 2005-06 when they began 8-2-1.
Nashville is also seeking to keep an opponent scoreless in the first period for the 11th consecutive game. That would put it one shy of tying the NHL’s longest season-opening streak by the 1974-75 Los Angeles Kings.
The Ducks have been blanked in all but two opening periods this season and have endured five shutouts in their first 10 games. Hampus Lindholm helped them avoid another blanking Thursday against St. Louis, but Anaheim finished 0-4-1 on its road trip with a 2-1 defeat.
The Ducks gave up the tiebreaking goal when Blues defenseman Colton Parayko’s shot went off the boards and deflected in off netminder Frederik Andersen’s left skate.
"We do need a break and we’re not getting them right now and that’s what usually happens when a dark cloud’s over you," coach Bruce Boudreau said.
The Ducks won the final game before that trip, 4-1 over Minnesota on Oct. 18, after dropping their first three on home ice. They’ll open a three-game homestand Sunday.
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzalf, who had one assist in eight games, will likely sit out again while continuing to recover from an appendectomy. Top-line players Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler also remain without a goal and are combined minus-10.
Neal had one assist in the most recent matchup with Anaheim and has totaled three points (one goal, two assists) in his last three. Mike Ribeiro has eight goals and 12 assists in his past 16 while Wilson has four goals and two assists in his last five.
The Ducks haven’t lost six straight since an 0-6-1 slide in November 2011.