Predators unable to Shake the Blues, Fall 3-0

Pekka Rinne goes to stop the puck before St. Louis could score again.

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:

KEY POINTS:

  • 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.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)

St. Louis leaves Singing the Blues for Fourth Time in Smashville

Sergei Kostitsyn sealed the game for the Predators with an empty-netter.

The Predators welcome the St. Louis Blues back to the Bridgestone Arena Saturday night, the fourth meeting this season between the two division rivals. Before this game, the Predators had already shutdown the Blues all three times, so St. Louis was itching to ruin the fourth try on Nashville’s home turf. Saturday’s game also welcomed a ton of fans from both sides, the 16th sellout of the season for the Predators. Here are the highlights from Saturday’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Even though he made the cover of Saturday’s Preds Press, Jack Hillen found himself amongst the scratched that night, along with Jerred Smithson (his thirty-third birthday, geez – no love) and rookie Gabriel Bourque.
  • The Blues came out a bit scrappy, eager to get the first goal on Pekka Rinne. However, St. Louis made a fatal mistake when David Perron took a hooking penalty, giving Martin Erat his 12th goal of the season with a slap shot passed Jaroslav Halak on the power play at 6:59. Both Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Suter assisted on the power play.
  • Mike Fisher wasted little time at 12:30 with a wrist shot in front of the net, sending the Predators up and over the Blues 2-0. Fisher’s 15th goal of the season was assisted by Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat.
  • The second period produced no goals, but Brian McGrattan reminded Ryan Reaves who you should and shouldn’t drop the gloves against. Though the video is voiced by the St. Louis announcers (and of course they are going to go for Reaves), but anyone with a brain can tell you Big Ern put the little Blues player in his place. We put the video on our Facebook on Saturday, but here it is in case you missed it:
  • Chris Porter made up his fellow Blues players with a goal at 4:01 in the third, finally getting the St. Louis Blues on the board (Dang! No doughnut for us…), his 3rd goal of the season.
  • St. Louis would continue to push Pekka Rinne to his limits, but in the end, at 19:37 with a nice, clean pass from David Legwand, Sergei Kostitsyn sealed the empty-netter along with the game, his 13th goal of the season. Along with the assistance from Leggy, Martin Erat picked up an assist and his third point for the game.
  • Pekka Rinne has been on fire since the get-go, and these last few games have produced some new contortionist moves from the Finnish phenom, keeping expectant goals away from the net. How was he not an All-Star goalie again? Pekka was able to block an amazing 42 of 43 shots on goal (we wouldn’t expect any less).
  • The Blues and the Predators both faced their share of penalties, with the Predators capitalizing on one of three given to them. The Predators also gave the Blues three chances, and here are the culprits:
  1. Jordin Tootoo – 13:27 1st Period – Tripping (absolutely horrible call)
  2. Brian McGrattan – 8:49 2nd Period – Fighting (awesome beat down)
  3. Craig Smith – 8:49 3rd Period – Delaying the Game – Puck over Glass (he sure makes some silly mistakes)

Since the Predators dismantled the Blues and their thought of a win, Nashville is now 4-0-0 against the Blues this season, though each game has been nail-bitingly close. The Predators continue at home on Tuesday when they welcome the oh-so-lovable Vancouver Canucks to Nashville. The puck drops at 7PM!

Also, congrats to everyone who ran, walked, jogged, etc. today during the Predators Fangtastic 5K! Although it was raining, that didn’t stop 1400 fans from taking on the 3 miler! We jogged it, but still felt the burn the next day!

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America)