Preds visit Rangers in battle between struggling clubs

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( - The Nashville Predators try to put the brakes on a five- game losing streak on Tuesday as they finish up a brief two-game road trip against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Nashville's woes in the month of December continued on Saturday in Washington, as the Capitals dealt them a 5-2 defeat. Roman Josi had a goal and an assist while Eric Nystrom scored the other goal for the Predators, who are 0-4-1 since blanking Columbus back on Nov. 27.

Marek Mazanec allowed all five goals on 33 shots in Saturday's setback. He is 0-4-1 with a 3.42 GAA in his last five starts.

"It's paying attention to details, it's goaltending, it's not taking advantage of chances," said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz. "I can't fault the work ethic because the guys are working hard, we're just struggling right now."

New York has been equally woeful of late and comes into Tuesday's tilt having dropped three in a row at MSG following a lifeless, 4-1, loss to the Capitals on Sunday.

They've lost three of four overall, allowing at least four goals in each defeat. They haven't lost four straight at Madison Square Garden since Feb. 20-March 3, 2011.

"You dig yourself into these situations, sometimes it's going to take some time or it's going to take something to get you out of it," Brad Richards said. "We're going to have to get a little uncomfortable here and get out of our comfort zone.

"We are just floating along, and it's getting old."

Henrik Lundqvist had 32 saves for the Rangers, who have lost two straight to begin their franchise-record nine-game homestand, including Saturday's defeat to the New Jersey Devils in overtime.

"In all aspects of our game we have to get better," said Rangers forward Ryan Callahan.

Benoit Pouliot netted New York's only goal in the loss, which prompted a the second player's only meeting in less than a week for the Rangers, who are 6-7-1 in the last 14.

"You can talk all you want; you have to have those words become actions on the ice and the right kind of actions," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said."You can talk all you want behind closed doors, but it's the 200-by-85 that games are decided."

To make matters worse for New York, defenseman Marc Staal missed Sunday's loss and will likely sit out Tuesday's contest as well with concussion-like symptoms after taking a hit from Devils' Reid Boucher.

Staal, of course, sat out the first 37 games of the 2011-12 season due to symptoms from a concussion sustained on Feb. 22, 2011, on a hit by his brother, Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal. Then last season, he played only 21 of 48 regular season games and one playoff game due to a career- threatening eye injury from a puck to the face on March 5 against the Flyers.

"Obviously with his history, we're taking every precaution," Vigneault said before Sunday's game.

The Rangers blanked Nashville back on Nov. 23 and have won each of their last three games against the Predators, out-scoring Nashville, 7-1, during the stretch. The Blueshirts have also won five of the last seven contests against the Predators.