Pekka Rinne made 36 saves, but the Predators were unable to find the back of the net, as they fell to the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-0, on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. The result sees Nashville's two-game win streak conclude, as they finish their season series against Vegas with a 1-1-1 record.
After an encouraging set of back-to-back victories on the road, the Predators returned home looking for another boost of confidence against a Vegas team on the second half of a back-to-back of their own.
Instead, the home team was left looking for answers.
"It's not good enough from our side," Preds Captain Roman Josi said. "They outplayed us for two periods, and they were the better team. They were faster than us and won more battles. It was still 1-0 [to start the third period], and we had a chance to win it, but we couldn't get it done."
"Disappointing," Rinne said. "We talked before the game [and said] it's our playoff time now. It's disappointing. We've had a tough record at home, and [this is] another home loss… They had a back-to-back, and it looked like they were the [fresher] team. Just disappointed."
The Predators were only able to register two shots on goal in the game's opening period, and just six more followed in the middle frame. Rinne was stellar, however, stopping 28 Vegas shots through 40 minutes.
The only goal in those first two periods came off the stick of Chandler Stephenson, and Nicolas Roy beat Rinne in the third before Reilly Smith iced it into the empty net.
Entering the third period down by just one, the Predators knew they had a chance to come back once more, just as they had in those previous two road outings. But they weren't able to muster much in the form of high quality chances against Marc-Andre Fleury and the Golden Knights, a fact that led to another disappointing result.
Video: Hynes tries to provide answers after shutout loss
"We had a chance tonight," Rinne said. "Half the second period, it was a 1-0 game and we still had a chance. I really liked that. I liked the fact that we've been able to come from behind [in the last two games]. It showed mental strength, so that's obviously important at this point in the season. But at the same time, I guess I'm just so stuck with the results. It's all about the results."
The Predators will now embark on a four-game road trip through Western Canada, a crucial journey as the regular season reaches its final two full months of action.
"It's certainly the challenge that our team is facing right now is trying to string some consistent games together, consistent results together, and that's something that we've got to find," Preds Head Coach John Hynes said. "We've got to find a way… We felt like we were playing some pretty good hockey, overcoming some adversity a little bit, high-scoring games. But then tonight, I just think when it came to the speed of the game, the mental engagement, the physical engagement of what it took to win this hockey game tonight, we just weren't on the same level."
Video: NSH Recap: Team musters 19 shots in shutout loss
Calle Jarnkrok missed his second consecutive game due to illness. Yakov Trenin and Matt Irwin were also scratched for the Preds on Saturday night.
The Predators will now head back on the road, this time to Western Canada for a four-game swing. It starts Tuesday night in Winnipeg before making stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver over the next 10 days.