Goals have been hard to come by of late for the Boston Bruins on a road trip they began with a flurry.
Facing the high-powered Dallas Stars in Saturday night's final stop, they'll need to regain their scoring touch in a hurry.
After recording 15 goals while winning two of the first three on their season-high six-game trek, the Bruins have managed just two over their last two. They were sluggish throughout much of Thursday's 2-0 loss in Nashville, where the Predators scored twice in the first 15 minutes.
''We weren't ready to play, that was pretty evident,'' forward Brad Marchand said. ''They came out a lot harder than we did and got a couple of early ones while we were sleeping. Ultimately, that cost us the game.''
Marchand has gone without a point in two straight after generating 13 of his team-high 28 goals over the previous 13 games. More troubling for Boston (31-21-6), which owns a one-point edge on Detroit for second place in the Atlantic Division, is a power play that's 0 for 19 on the trip and 3 for 51 over a 16-game span.
"I thought we created some good scoring chances, some good shots from up top," center David Krejci told the Bruins' official website. "There's a couple shots that could have gone in the net - that seems like how it's been going for us lately on the power play."
Better efficiency may be necessary to keep up with Dallas (37-16-6), the league leader with 189 goals. Boston wasn't able to do so in a 5-3 home loss Nov. 13 in which former Bruin Tyler Seguin registered a hat trick and the Stars went 3 of 4 on the power play.
Seguin scored his sixth in nine games and Jamie Benn added his 30th of the season Thursday in Arizona, but the Stars otherwise failed to match the Coyotes' speed and intensity in a disappointing 6-3 defeat.
"We've got to be ready to go and be ready to play a good, solid defensive game against any team in this league," Benn said. "We can't take games off like we did (Thursday)."
Dallas had a five-game point streak halted and remained one behind Central Division-leading Chicago with its second consecutive loss.
Antti Niemi allowed five goals on 41 shots and has a 3.64 goals-against average in five starts since the All-Star break, so coach Lindy Ruff may turn back to Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen, 3-0-1 with a 2.46 GAA while starting four of the previous five contests, made 20 saves in Tuesday's 2-1 overtime loss at St. Louis and 36 against the Bruins in November.
Either will have to be prepared for Marchand and Loui Eriksson, part of the July 2013 trade that sent Seguin to Dallas. Eriksson had a four-game goal streak snapped Thursday and has scored three in the teams' last three matchups.
Boston, among the league's best road teams at 19-7-3, won its second straight in Dallas behind Tuukka Rask's 36 saves in a 3-1 victory Jan. 20, 2015. Rask, though, gave up five goals on 19 shots in this season's only meeting.
Rask, who owns a 2.06 GAA on the road, has yielded three goals over Boston's last two games after a three-start span in which he had a 5.83 GAA.