Craig Smith made things interesting in the third period, but it wasn't enough as the Nashville Predators fell to the Boston Bruins, 4-1, on Tuesday night at TD Garden. The result keeps the Preds at 89 points and sees their four-game win streak come to an end.
A Boston team desperate to win as they try to keep their spot in the postseason jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period before the Predators picked up their game, but the deficit was too much to overcome in their second game in as many nights.
"We made mistakes early on that gave them a lead, and from there we were chasing the game," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "I thought we got better as the game went on, but I thought they jumped us in the first."
"Not that being tired is an excuse, because every game is important down the stretch, but I think it took us a period to get into it, which isn't going to cut it," defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "The second and third were better periods for us, but it's got to be a consistent 60 minutes for us."
The Bruins recorded the first four shots of the game on the Predators' net en route to taking a 1-0 lead on Patrice Bergeron's 18th at 2:28.
Nashville appeared to settle in over the next 10 minutes of game play, but couldn't find the equalizer, and David Krejci beat Pekka Rinne through the five hole to put the home club ahead by two in the first.
The Predators won the shot battle 9-5 in the second to recover from an early deficit in shots and make the shot counter read 18-15 in favor of Boston after 40 minutes.
Video: NSH@BOS: Smith redirects Josi's shot past Rask
After Filip Forsberg hit the crossbar in the final frame, Smith's 10th of the season midway through the period gave the Predators life, but Noel Acciari's first NHL goal put his team back up by two before David Backes iced it with an empty-netter.
"I thought the second and third were much better for us," Ellis said. "When you start trying to create a little more offense, you give up chances the other way and they capitalized on theirs."
With the completion of three games in four nights, the Predators will take a much-needed day off on Wednesday to recharge before hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, yet another Eastern Conference opponent trying to do everything in their power to find a spot in the postseason.
"I feel like we can elevate our game and be better than that," goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "It was a playoff atmosphere, but I think we can do a better job. I know we will, but now is the time to get ready for the postseason and get your mindset right."
"All of these teams, including us, are battling for playoff position, and we need to continue to go in the right direction," Ellis said. "Tonight didn't happen for us, but we'll regroup and come back on Thursday and be better."
Video: NSH Recap: Smith scores lone goal in 4-1 defeat
The Predators magic number remains at five after their regulation loss, but Kings loss to the Oilers later tonight could reduce that number. For a current look at the Predators most likely First Round opponent, click here.
Mike Fisher (day-to-day; lower-body injury) and Yannick Weber (day-to-day; upper-body injury) remained out of the Preds lineup on Tuesday. General Manager David Poile told 102.5 The Game earlier in the day that Fisher could return to action as soon as on Thursday against the Maple Leafs.
Two games are down in Nashville's stretch of five games in seven days. The Preds return to Bridgestone Arena to host the Leafs on Thursday (at 7 p.m. CT) before playing another back-to-back set this weekend (Saturday vs. Minnesota and Sunday at St. Louis).