WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Coach Paul Maurice doesn't think his Winnipeg Jets are desperate.
With a 4-1 loss at home Thursday night to the Nashville Predators, the Jets are 21-23-3 and their playoff hopes are dimming as they remain at the bottom of the NHL Central Division and six points out of a postseason spot.
"I don't think desperate hockey has any sense to it," Maurice said. "Urgency? Listen, I'm not sure that they didn't play as hard as they could, but we could play a little smarter and we could pass the puck better. I know that. But clearly we're in a tough spot here now with the losses that are mounting here at home."
Ryan Johansen kept up his hot play since being traded with a goal and an assist. Johansen has four goals and nine points in seven games since his trade from Columbus on Jan. 6.
Craig Smith, James Neal and Calle Jarnkrok, with an empty-netter, also scored for the Predators.
Rookie Nikolaj Ehlers scored his ninth goal of the season for Winnipeg, which has dropped two straight to start a six-game homestand.
Ehlers scored at 4:16 of the first period after getting behind Nashville's defense, picking up a long, breakaway pass from Joel Armia and flipping the puck past Pekka Rinne, who made 26 saves.
"It definitely hurts," said Ehlers. "We played a pretty good game, a full 60 minutes. We had some good chances and weren't able to execute."
The Predators continue their four-game road trip Saturday in Edmonton.
"It was a great team win, a good way to start off what is going to be a tough road trip and a tough few games coming up," Neal said. "A team that's right behind us in the standings, so it was a huge win."
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 24 for the Jets.
Nashville capitalized on a kneeing penalty to Jets winger Anthony Peluso to tie it 1-1 at 16:39 of the first.
Johansen scored his ninth goal of the season on the power play when he jammed the puck in on the short side from behind the goal line.
Nashville took the 2-1 lead in the second period when Smith's shot from inside the faceoff circle went high past a partly screened Hellebuyck for his 10th goal at 5:04.
Winnipeg had an 18-17 edge in shots on goal heading into the third.
Neal scored his 17th goal at 18:08 when Johansen won the faceoff and sent the puck to him out in front. Jarnkrok added the empty-netter 25 seconds later.
"If we're a good enough team to outshoot them 11-2 even strength in the second period, then you've got to be a good enough team to win the game," Maurice said.
Notes: It was the third time the teams have played each other in 16 days. The Jets won the first two, including a 5-4 overtime victory last Thursday in Winnipeg. ... The Jets were without forwards Alexander Burmistrov, Adam Lowry, Mark Scheiefle and Drew Stafford. All but Burmistrov are on the injured-reserve list. ... Winnipeg hosts New Jersey on Saturday.