The Carolina Hurricanes' crucial five-game road trip didn't get off to a positive start.
The Hurricanes look to bounce back from their most recent loss when they visit the Nashville Predators for the first time since 2002 on Tuesday.
Carolina (26-25-4) is tied with Atlanta atop the tightly bunched Southeast Division, where three points separate first and fourth place. The Hurricanes, though, opened their longest remaining trip of the season in lackluster fashion Saturday, losing 4-1 at Pittsburgh for their second defeat in six contests.
The Hurricanes, whose only game against a division opponent on the trip is at Washington on Friday, have lost three of their last four away from home. They're 7-12-0 on the road since starting 6-2-2 there.
|Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward gave up four goals on the first nine shots on Saturday, but is expected back in net for his first-career start against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
Carolina won 5-4 at home over the Predators on Jan. 13, 2006 in the teams' most recent meeting, but Tuesday's contest will mark the Hurricanes' first appearance in Nashville since a 2-1 victory Dec. 3, 2002. The Hurricanes have won two of the last three meetings in the series.
Carolina won't have it easy, though, as the Predators (27-21-5) will be trying to match their season high with a fourth straight home win.
On Saturday, Sergei Samsonov opened the scoring with his fourth goal for the Hurricanes since being claimed off waivers from Chicago on Jan. 8, but Carolina allowed four goals in the third period.
"For the most part for two periods, it was an even game," said Samsonov, who has two goals in three games overall and four in 10 career contests versus Nashville.
Carolina posted its lowest goal total since a 5-1 loss at Ottawa on Jan. 17. The Hurricanes averaged almost four goals per contest in going 4-1 since that defeat.
Cam Ward allowed four goals on the first nine shots he faced in the third period Saturday after stopping 18 through two periods. Ward, who gave up more goals in the final 20 minutes than he did in his previous two games, is expected back in net Tuesday for his first-career start against the Predators.
Nashville, a distant second behind Detroit in the Central Division, looks for its third win in a row after beating Phoenix 3-2 in overtime at home Saturday.
Alexander Radulov recorded the winning goal on a shot that deflected off his left shoulder, giving him a career-best six-game goal streak and tying the franchise record set by J.P. Dumont from Dec. 29-Jan. 8. Radulov has seven goals during his streak.
"It bounced off of the goalie then off of my shoulder and head and then in," Radulov said. "They all count, and everybody is happy that the team won, and that is the best thing."
Backup goaltender Dan Ellis made 35 saves for his second straight win, but Chris Mason could return to the net Tuesday to make his first career start against Carolina.
Jason Arnott, Nashville's leading scorer with 46 points, is expected to play Tuesday after missing Saturday's contest with a leg injury.
"He'll have a solid three days off and then be ready to play again on Tuesday," Nashville coach Barry Trotz told the team's official Web site.