The Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators hoped to build off the most successful seasons in the history of their respective franchises. That hasn't been the case through the first three weeks of 2007-08.
Hoping to overcome their early struggles, the teams meet Thursday night in Nashville.
Atlanta (2-7-0) recorded club records with 43 wins and 97 points last season to win its first Southeast Division title since entering the league in 1999-2000. The Thrashers, though, started 0-6-0 this season before winning two of three, including a 5-4 shootout win at Toronto on Tuesday for its first road victory.
"It's just nice to get a win and help ourselves get over the hump," Thrashers defenseman Ken Klee said of Tuesday's victory. "We really needed this. It wasn't pretty by any means, but we'll take this and try to build on it on this road trip."
The Thrashers are 2-1-0 since general manager Don Waddell took over as coach for the fired Bob Hartley. They'll look to improve on that mark in the third of a season-high seven-game road trip. Atlanta was 20-16-5 away from home in 2006-07.
Atlanta will look for its fourth straight victory over Nashville (2-6-0), which also set team records with 51 wins and 110 points last season. The Predators look to avoid matching a franchise record with a seventh consecutive loss, while trying to prevent a third straight shutout when they face the Thrashers for the first time since 2005-06.
On Tuesday, Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal, two assists and scored the winner in the shootout for Atlanta. Eric Perrin also had a goal and two assists and Tobias Enstrom recorded his first NHL goal.
Johan Hedberg, who has replaced the injured Kari Lehtonen - out with a groin injury - made a season-high 32 saves against the Maple Leafs.
Kovalchuk has two goals and three assists in his last three contests and had a goal and an assist in the Thrashers' 4-3 shootout win over Nashville on Jan. 11, 2006 in the teams' most recent meeting.
Nashville hasn't lost seven in a row in a season since Nov. 20-Dec. 2, 1999. It has never been shutout in three straight games in its previous eight NHL seasons.
The Predators lost 6-0 at Los Angeles on Tuesday, three days after a 3-0 defeat at San Jose. Nashville has been outscored 29-9 during its current skid after outscoring Colorado and Dallas 9-1 to win its first two games of the season.
"I'm at a loss for words," Nashville forward Jason Arnott said. "We have a lot of soul searching to do. Until we come together as a team, we're not going to go anywhere."
The Predators, who lost offensive talent like Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg and Scott Hartnell in the offseason, haven't scored since defenseman Ryan Suter's goal in the third period of a 3-1 loss at Anaheim on Oct. 17.
"I didn't expect this," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We're doing a lot of talking. We need to quit the talking and just do it."