February 5th, 2013
St. Louis, Missouri
7:00 p.m. CST
TV: FOX Sports Midwest, NHL Centre Ice
The Nashville Predators finish their 7 game, 15 day long road trip against the St. Louis Blues tonight in what will be their third matchup of the season tonight at the Scottrade Center. Things are pretty much firing on all cylinders for St. Louis this year, with six wins in 8 games due to tremendous goaltending from both Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, solid defense from Wade Redden (say what?) and Alex Pietrangelo and the NHL’s top rookie and possible MVP candidate Vladimir Tarasenko up at forward. The Predators, however, are looking to avenge their losses to the Blues this season with the fourth-best record in terms of an regulation goals against per game (2.12) despite the loss of Ryan Suter to Minnesota during the off-season. Sergei Kostitsyn scored Nashville’s lone goal of Saturday’s game just 59 seconds into the third period, marking the second consecutive game the Predators scored in the opening minute of a period, however, the struggling Predators cannot seem to pot any goals, averaging less than two per game. Martin Erat, Nashville’s leading scorer, missed the Predators’ previous game at San Jose after he took a puck in the foot at practice the previous day, but he said he is good to go for Nashville today. With Halak out with an injured groin, Elliott, a 2012 NHL All-Star goaltender, gets the nod inside the blue paint for St. Louis. The well-rested Blues defense will look to continue their strong play in front of Elliott, while Patrik Berglund has begun heating up for the Blues in a big way, scoring four goals and adding two assists in his last five games. Can the Blues pull off their third win against the Predators this season, or will Pekka Rinne have something to say at the other end?
St. Louis Blues Lineup (6-2-0)
David Perron-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald-Alex Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Sobotka-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart
Jaden Schwartz-Scott Nichol-Ryan Reaves
Wade Redden-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell-Roman Polak
Scratches: Jaroslav Halak (Groin)
Nashville Predators Lineup (3-2-3)
Colin Wilson-Mike Fisher-Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque-David Legwand-Sergei Kostitsyn
Nick Spaling-Paul Gaustad-Brandon Yip
Richard Clune-Craig Smith
Roman Josi-Shea Weber
Scott Hannan-Kevin Klein
Hal Gill-Ryan Ellis
Scratches: Brian McGrattan and Matt Halischuk
As is the trend for much of the NHL this year, it didn’t take long before one of the teams took an early lead. While St. Louis forward Andy MacDonald was in the penalty box for tripping Nashville’s Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis was able to fire towards the Blues’ net just a few feet out to the side, only to be deflected by Alex Pietrangelo between the legs of Elliott, giving Nashville an early 1-0 advantage only 2:10 into the game. Next to taking a penalty that cost his team the first goal against of the night, MacDonald was invisible for the Blues, and almost managed to put the puck in his own net with only a few minutes left in the first. Elliott was lucky enough to be prepared for that shot, however a Colin Wilson shot that rebounded straight to fourth liner Richard Clune wasn’t able to stay out of the net as Nashville took a 2-0 lead with just 5 minutes remaining in the third. The Blues were just nowhere to be found, as ANOTHER Elliott rebound resulted in a Predators goal, as Nick Spaling recorded his second of the season. The Preds controlled the pace during the period, potting three goals on 9 shots, while Nashville’s defense were able to limit St. Louis to only 4 shots in the opening frame.
The Blues came out hot in the third, taking four shots in just the first five minutes of the second period, however Nashville was just the far better team. Kevin Klein ripped a shot from the point, only to get tipped by St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak passed Elliott. His night in net was done, getting replaced by AHL star Jake Allen, but it only took one shot before it was in the back of the net again, this time thanks to a Gabriel Bourque rush to the net. St. Louis finally got on a board thanks to a Patrik Berglund that resulted in Pietrangelo getting redemption for his earlier own goal, making it 5-1 with less than 10 minutes to go in the middle frame. Despite allowing two goals on three shots, the Blues were the better team in third, sending 14 shots Rinne’s way, but it could be too late for them to make up for their previous weak play.
Remember how Allen let in a goal on his first NHL shot against? Well he was able to improve his save percentage to .500 after making a save…16 minutes later. After scoring two goals in a minute the period prior, Nashville didn’t record a single shot until the 6:04 mark of the third, a slap shot from Shea Weber that was easily stopped by Allen. The Blues began the third a ton of momentum, but they weren’t able to capitalize on a 25 second 5 on 3 at the start of the period which really didn’t help their comeback cause. Nashville didn’t really challenge their opponents during the second half of the game, however a Martin Erat goal at 16:34 into the third gave the Predators their 6th goal on only 19 shots on net.
Final score, Predators 6, Blues 1.
Shots: Predators 19, Blues 32
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