St. Louis already has their playoff spot clinched, but the Predators only need one more point to capture a spot of their own. The only team standing in their way, of course, is the leader of the Central Division, the St. Louis Blues. Nashville has actually made a good standing against the Blues this season, only losing once 3-2 in a shootout back on February 23rd. In the previous three games, the Predators were able get the best of St. Louis.
Only one game stood between the Predators and a playoff spot (and Barry Trotz’s 500th win). Were the Predators able to knock off the reining champs of the division? Here are the highlights from tonight’s game:
- Although he practiced this morning with the team, Martin Erat remained on the scratched list this evening in St. Louis. Colin Wilson, however, has recovered from his groin injury and joined the lineup once again. Roman Josi, Brian McGrattan, Jack Hillen, and as expected, Jordin Tootoo rounded up the scratched list.
- Neither team was able to score in the first period, but Nashville came out strong with the shots, out-shooting St. Louis 8 to 6. However, both Brian Elliot and Pekka Rinne were light on their feet, blocking some key shots on goal.
- St. Louis built momentum off their home crowd in the second period and were finally able to capitalize on the chaos at 6:35 with a snap shot from Jamie Langenbrunner (6th goal of the season), putting the Blues up 1-0 over the Predators.
- With St. Louis only up by one point going into the 3rd, the Predators had prime opportunities to tie up the game or surpass the Blues. However, St. Louis continued to control the puck over the Predators, with a goal from David Perron at 4:47, his 17th goal of the season.
- So after Perron’s goal, it looked as if the Blues would take it a little further with a third goal from T.J. Oshie, but the goal was waved off, due to Pekka being pushed into the net. To be honest, it should have been ruled a goal, but the Predators were able to bite the bullet on that call.
- Oshie must have taken offense to the ref’s call, for at 16:00 he snuck a back-hander behind Pekka to put the Blues up 3-0 (his 19th goal of the season). The Predators would push hard to at least sink one goal, but Brian Elliot was just too fast and accurate for the Predators to sneak one by.
- The Blues and the Predators were even with shots, but it was clear who had control of the game the entire time. The Blues stole way too many passes from the Predators, making Nashville look like pee wee hockey team compared to the team that destroyed the Blackhawks on Sunday night. Brian Elliot is a beast in his own, though; this shutout over the Predators gave him his third consecutive shutout (9th of the season).
- There were only two penalties in the entire game, one on the Predators and one on the Blues. Alexander Radulov picked up a hooking penalty at 7:00 in the 2nd Period, but the Blues weren’t able to gain a goal from his mishap.
Not the game the Predators needed to lose, but the team has no time to sulk in misery. Luckily, the Blackhawks lost in a shootout against the New Jersey Devils, falling back a few steps, too. Although the Predators are not likely to face the St. Louis Blues to start off with in the playoffs, depending on how far they advance, they will eventually… and that’s nerve-wracking from a fan’s perspective. If only the Predators can channel the momentum they had against Chicago on Sunday and continue to play that way.
The Predators aren’t headed home just yet. Before taking on the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in Nashville, the Predators have to drop by Detroit one last time this season to face the Red Wings on Friday. Again, channeling Sunday’s game would be ideal. Barry needs his 500th.
(Photo credit: Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)