Inconsistent effort by Preds produces first loss in 12 days…

They came out flat.

In each period.

The Nashville Predators lost their first game in just under two weeks in front of 15,501 at Bridgestone Arena and the Dallas Stars became the beneficiary of a lackluster effort by the host team, picking up two points in the process.

The first five minutes of the first period saw the Preds get outshot and outworked. Then they woke up and poured it on, finishing the first frame with a 14-5 shot advantage. Then, it was deja vu in the second period. After a listless first few minutes, Nashville woke up and finished the period outshooting Dallas 12-5. Shea Weber, who was unloading his cannon from everywhere Tuesday night, scored the Predators only goal during the second stanza.

Then the third period started. And the Preds didn’t have a sense of urgency at all. The Stars capitalized for two quick goals just 30 seconds apart in the opening two minutes of the period, thereby putting the game out of reach. Not because Dallas is that good but because Nashville didn’t seem to care much.

Whether they were “saving energy” for the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday and the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday or they felt like they could cost thanks to the six game win streak they were on coming into tonight, the Preds put together an uninspired and inconsistent effort. When teams are below you in the standings, you must beat them because other playoff-caliber teams will. If you want to be considered a threat, you need to put away the teams you’re supposed to put away. Tonight, the Predators did not do that.

Thankfully, with the six consecutive wins these past 12 days, they can afford a slip up to a non-threatening opponent like Dallas, who currently sits in 10th in the Western Conference and is all but eliminated from the post season. Laying an egg against Detroit however, who’s currently in 8th and only four points away from Nashville, is completely different.

So, win or lose against Phoenix on Thursday, they better come out focused, ready and relentless against the Red Wings on Saturday.

GAME NOTES
* Weber was only credited with one shot on goal but had five others that fell under “attempted shots” and one other that ended up in the “blocked shots” column.
* Dan Hamhuis and Patric Hornqvist led all Preds in shots with five each.
* Not a single Nashville player ended with a plus-rating tonight.
* The best line of the first period was the “Milwaukee Line” of Colin Wilson-Cal O’Reilly-Hornqvist. But, alas, Head Coach Barry Trotz opted to split up the threesome after the first intermission. Fans are still wondering why.
* This was the Predators’ first loss since the 8-5 debacle in San Jose back on March 11.
* Steve Sullivan and Ryan Suter assisted on the only Nashville goal of the game.
* Joel Ward and Jason Arnott missed the game due to injury.
* Rookie Nick Spaling was called up this afternoon and logged 9:27 of ice time and finished a minus-1.
* The loss was Pekka Rinne‘s first since March 7 against Vancouver.
* The Predators came in tied with the Los Angeles Kings for 5th place. LA was idle tonight but plays 7th place Colorado tomorrow.