NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Facing backup goalie Juuse Saros instead of the dominating Pekka Rinne was supposed to give the Flyers an advantage Tuesday night.
Saros, who took a 3.05 goals-against average into the game, gave a pretty good Rinne impersonation as Nashville defeated the fading Flyers, 4-0, at Bridgestone Arena.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Saros, a fourth-round selection in the 2013 draft, stopped 32 shots as the Flyers ended their five-game road trip with their fourth straight defeat. The trip started with a 3-2 shootout win over the New York Rangers.
Saros denied Wayne Simmonds, who was in alone, with 14 minutes, 24 seconds left in regulation. Thirty-nine seconds later, the Predators' Viktor Arvidsson scored his second goal of the night, this one after a defensive breakdown led to a breakaway, padding the Predators' lead to 3-0 with 13:45 remaining.
A little more than eight minutes later, an Ivan Provorov miscue led to Rocco Grimaldi’s goal, which was set up by former Flyers winger Zac Rinaldo.
The Flyers (15-19-5), who are last in the Metropolitan Division and 11 points out of a playoff spot, are 3-4-1 under interim coach Scott Gordon. They have scored a total of two goals over their last three games.
“We’ve got to be better for 60 minutes. It’s frustrating,” said Claude Giroux, who was minus-4 over the last two games.
The Flyers, who won 72.9 percent of their faceoffs but were blanked for the fifth time this season, hit iron four times and outshot the Preds, 32-30.
“We had some good chances and didn’t capitalize and they did,” Sean Couturier said. “The next thing you know, we make a mistake and give them a freebie and they take the lead -- and then everyone is forcing their stick and chasing the game.”
It was just the ninth time in franchise history the Flyers had played on New Year’s Day -- and only the third time in the last 34 seasons. The Flyers are now 4-2-1-2 in games played on Jan. 1.
Thirty-five seconds into the second period, Travis Konecny broke down ice on a two-on-one with Giroux and fired a shot off the post.
A short time later, Nashville (24-15-2) went on an odd-man rush after Simmonds and Jordan Weal fell to the ice, and Craig Smith scored from the right circle after taking a feed from Kevin Fiala, whipping a perfect shot over Michal Neuvirth’s right shoulder with 17:57 left in the second.
Arvidsson made it 2-0 with 7:57 to go in the second as the Preds got a two-on-one down low, converting a goal-mouth feed from Ryan Johansen.
“We shot ourselves in the foot on all four goals,” said Gordon, who addressed the team after the loss. “Lapses on decisions, lapses on reads on the backcheck. There was a huge mistake made on each of those goals.”
After losing three straight games, Gordon shuffled his top three lines.
Giroux centered the promoted Michael Raffl and Konecny on the top line; Couturier centered the promoted Scott Laughton and Jake Voracek on the second unit; and Weal centered the demoted James van Riemsdyk and Simmonds on the third line.
The new lines, and a fourth unit centered by Phil Varone, helped the Flyers hold a huge territorial advantage in the opening period, which ended in a scoreless tie. The Flyers had a 13-6 shots advantage, but Saros had all the answers.
Saros made his best save when he stopped Laughton from point-blank range with 34 seconds left in the first.
Rinne, the Predators' star goalie, had played on Monday in a 6-3 win at Washington, so Saros was given the start. The Flyers, with rookie Carter Hart in the net, edged Nashville and Rinne, 2-1, when the teams met at the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 20.
Simplifying their inept power play, which was 0 for 2 Tuesday and has goals in just four of their last 25 games, needs to be one of the Flyers' New Year’s resolutions. So does this: Playing an engaged 60 minutes and not disappearing in some periods, as they have done on too many occasions this season.