After road trip ‘from hell,’ Trotz says changes are coming in Nashville


On the heels of a 5-1 thrashing in Los Angeles and what he called “a [road] trip from hell,” Barry Trotz said the Predators could be in for a significant shakeup.

“We’re going to have to make some changes,” Nashville’s head coach said on Monday night, courtesy Mayor’s Manor. “We’re going to have to change some guys. It’s not working for us.”

Nashville has just two wins in its last nine games and has been wildly inconsistent offensively.

Beginning on Feb. 16, the Preds scored 11 goals over a three-game stretch against Anaheim, Colorado and Detroit, but were then shut out in back-to-back losses to Vancouver and Detroit.

The Preds followed that up by exploding in a 5-4 OT win over Dallas…which was followed by the aforementioned hellish road trip.

Nashville suffered three losses in which they scored just three times (a 5-1 loss at Anaheim, 2-1 loss at San Jose and Monday’s 5-1 loss at LA.)

Yeah, not good.

Overall, Nashville has the league’s worst offense and last year’s three leading scorers — Martin Erat, David Legwand and Mike Fisher — have combined for just 27 points.

The Preds have claimed forwards Bobby Butler and Zach Boychuk off waivers to try and shake things up, but Trotz suggested those aren’t the only moves Nashville plans on making.

Here’s more Trotz, from Mayor’s Manor:

“Somebody’s going to be getting knocked out of the lineup. We’ve only had 20 guys. So there’s no backside pressure by anybody. We don’t have any extra guys right now, so everybody’s comfortable.

“The comfort level is going to be out the door, because A, we’re going to be looking at recalling some people, or obviously we picked up Bobby Butler on waivers. I’m sure our management and scouts are out there looking. I know the last couple days they’ve met, and trying to improve us.

“So that’s what it is right now. Now we’re not playing good as a hockey team, and then we’re not winning games where you have to win hockey games.”

The next two weeks will prove to be pretty crucial for the Preds.

They’ll get most of this week off, returning on Friday for a two-game homestand against the Oilers (Friday) and Wild (Saturday.)

After that, it’s off on another roadie — this time, a trek through Dallas, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Columbus that will see the Preds play five games in seven nights.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.