The Ottawa Senators own the best record in the NHL, but they haven't looked like an elite team lately.
The Senators try to snap their longest losing streak in more than a year Thursday night when they host the Nashville Predators.
Thanks to 15 wins in their first 17 games, the Senators (16-5-2) own a four-point lead over Philadelphia for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and are five points ahead of second-place Montreal in the Northeast Division.
Ottawa is tied with the Detroit Red Wings - who have one more loss - for the most points in the NHL.
However, the Senators have dropped four straight games and are 1-3-2 in their last six. The current losing streak is their longest since dropping five in a row from Oct. 28-Nov. 8, 2006.
The slump continued Wednesday night with a 3-2 shootout loss at the New York Islanders. Ottawa could at least take solace in earning a point and allowing fewer than four goals for the first time during the losing streak.
"We showed some better things than we have in some of our other recent games," forward Antoine Vermette said. "We created chances. We're moving forward in a good way."
Both of the Senators' goals were scored by Andrej Meszaros, who had the first two-goal game of his career. The third-year defenseman has four goals and 11 points on the season.
Daniel Alfredsson returned to the lineup after missing a game due to a groin injury, but the Ottawa captain failed to register a point in more than 26 minutes on the ice.
Alfredsson, who leads Ottawa with 16 goals and 30 points this season, has four goals and 10 points in seven career games versus Nashville.
Dany Heatley, meanwhile, has one goal and four assists in three games against the Predators, but he had a four-game goal streak snapped against the Islanders. The sixth-year star has seven goals and 20 points in 14 games at home.
Returning home could help the Senators snap out of their funk. Ottawa is 10-3-1 at Scotiabank Place this season, and has also won three straight home meetings with the Predators (11-9-2).
Nashville, which entered the league in 1998, has won only once in five trips to Ottawa - a 2-1 victory on Nov. 11, 1999.
These teams have not met at Scotiabank Place since a 4-2 Senators victory on March 6, 2004. The Predators beat the Senators 6-0 in Nashville on Dec. 14 in the only meeting last season.
The 2006-07 Predators finished second in the Western Conference, though, and this year's team is not playing at nearly the same level. Nashville occupies last place in the Central Division and has dropped three of its last four games, including a 4-3 loss to Minnesota on Saturday night.
The Predators had a season-high 43 shots on goal, but allowed the go-ahead score when Branko Radivojevic beat goaltender Chris Mason with 1:53 remaining.
"Somewhere along the line, if we are working hard and doing the right things those points will even out," Predators coach Barry Trotz said.
Vernon Fiddler, Martin Erat and Martin Gelinas scored the goals for Nashville.
Erat now has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his last six games overall, but he has not scored a goal in three career games against the Senators.