A pair of power-play goals made it interesting, but it was too little, too late for the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
Filip Forsberg netted two in the final six minutes of regulation and the Predators outshot the Ducks, 34-18, but the night belonged to Anaheim. The home team boasted a 3-0 lead as the final frame began and Forsberg's duo of man-advantage goals - the first time Nashville has recorded two power-play markers in a game since December - was a close as the Predators could get.
A 3-2 loss to the Ducks is difficult to take morale victories from, especially for a Predators team that has 11 games left in the regular season.
"It's a disappointing result and just a sleepy game," Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "There's not much going on, and it's just disappointing at this time of the year. I think we have to ask for more from ourselves, and everybody included. We have to show more speed, desperation, and it's a situation in the season where we have a lot of things in our own hands, and considering that, it's disappointing."
"We're chasing a game again, and we can't keep chasing a game," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "All of a sudden we're shortly into a game, we're down 2-0 and we can't play that way. You can do it once in while and come back, but the percentages aren't with you there."
Anaheim had a 2-0 lead after the opening period courtesy of goals from Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg. Recovering some, the Predators began the second period with a burst of energy, but after Pekka Rinne stopped Max Jones on a penalty shot, the Ducks got their third on a backhander from Daniel Sprong for a 3-0 lead after two frames.
Video: NSH@ANA: Forsberg nets two PPGs in under a minute
With two Ducks in the penalty box and six minutes to play, Laviolette elected to send Rinne to the bench for a 6-on-3 edge in skaters for Nashville. Mikael Granlund fed Forsberg on the other side of the offensive zone for the Predators' first of the evening to make it 3-1 at 14:16. Fifty-eight seconds later, Forsberg potted another to set the final score at 3-2, but that was as close as they came.
The road trip continues in Los Angeles, and as the regular season continues to wind down, the Preds will search for a better outing on Thursday, another opportunity to find the game they know they're capable of playing.
"You want to win all the games, you want to be playing your best hockey as an individual and as a team, no question about it," Rinne said. "Everybody knows individually we can be better, and as a team we can be better. It gives us time, but there's still bigger and better things ahead of us. We've got to see the good things, even though after a game like this it's hard to see that."
Video: NSH Recap: Forsberg scores two PPGs in loss to Ducks
Forsberg returned to the Nashville lineup after missing Saturday's game with an upper-body injury.
Rocco Grimaldi, Frederick Gaudreau and Matt Donovan were scratched for the Preds on Tuesday.
Nashville will now head up the California coast to Los Angeles for a date with the Kings on Thursday before finishing up the trip on Saturday night in San Jose.