A three-game losing streak has cost the Colorado Avalanche any real shot at the playoffs, but the Nashville Predators' four-game slide might have them fearing their own postseason will again be a short one.
Halting it Tuesday night could officially eliminate the visiting Avalanche from playoff contention as both teams look to avoid matching season-worst losing streaks.
While Nashville (39-26-14) has clinched a berth and is locked in as the Western Conference's first wild card, Colorado's chances of becoming the second took another hit with Sunday's 5-1 home loss to St. Louis.
The Avalanche (39-36-4) are five points back of Minnesota with three games to play. The Wild have two, so a Minnesota home win Tuesday against San Jose would end Colorado's hopes, as would a regulation loss of their own or both teams losing in overtime.
"We need to learn how to win," said coach Patrick Roy, whose team is a loss away from its third four-game skid of the season. "We need to change the mindset. I think we have a losing mindset right now. I think we have to find ways to believe more in ourselves."
The Avalanche have four goals on the losing streak and have dropped five of their last six while giving up 3.83 goals per game.
Matt Duchene reached 30 goals in a season for the first time, but other than that, there's been little to celebrate lately.
"We're fighting for our lives," Duchene said. "We're going to have to show what kind of mental fortitude we have, and right now it's not as good as it could be and we need to be better."
The Avalanche have won three of four in the season series and are 10-5-1 against the Predators since the start of 2012-13.
Nashville is coming off Saturday's 3-2 home shootout loss to San Jose, in which it blew a two-goal lead entering the third period. It followed three regulation defeats, and the Predators can now match a five-game slide from Jan. 5-14.
"We've got to play better than we did tonight," coach Peter Laviolette told the team's official website. "We weren't ready to work. We got outworked from the start to the finish, and the results, I think, reflected that."
The Predators lost six straight to end the regular season last year and were then bounced from the playoffs in the first round, so they'd like to clean things up in their last three.
"We've lost four straight here, so even though it's clinched and we can't go up or down, it's about getting our game in order," Ryan Ellis said. "Last year, we limped into the playoffs. We knew we were going to be there after the start we had, but we kind of lost our way, and it didn't help us in the playoffs. So I think these next few games are about getting our game in order."
Shot total has been a part of the concern with Nashville conceding a 40-30 advantage to San Jose. In the last two games, it's given up 81.
Pekka Rinne figures to be in goal to be up against the next barrage after Carter Hutton faced the Sharks. Rinne is 0-2-0 with a 5.39 goals against average and .839 save percentage in his last three games and 1-2-0 with 3.84 and .876 marks in four games against the Avalanche this season.
Likely counterpart Semyon Varlamov has given up three goals in each of his last seven games, going 2-5-0 with a 3.36 GAA and .910 save percentage. He's won his last four against Nashville.