A lot of hype surrounded Thursday’s contest in Nashville between the Blues and Predators… and rightfully so! The two division rivals have jumped out to a quick start this year. But the game did not live up to its billing as Jaroslav Halak and company grabbed a 3-0 victory over Nashville. The win for the Blues snapped a five-game skid against the Predators.
You got the sense early on that Halak was going to be very tough to beat. The Preds had some point-blank chances and breakaways in the first period, but could never get one past Halak, who made 24 saves on the night in what was his second straight shutout.
After the first, the Blues held a 15-8 shot advantage; it sure didn’t seem like it as Nashville sustained more pressure in the offensive zone than St. Louis did.
With 7:04 remaining in the second period, the Blues struck first with a shorthanded tally from Alex Steen. David Perron was all alone behind the net and eventually found a wide open Steen in front.
Nashville had numerous chances late in the period on the power play, but came up empty once again against a tough St. Louis penalty kill.
Davis Payne’s club did a great job of stymieing the Preds’ attack in the third. The Preds could only muster five shots on net in the final frame as the Blues clogged the shooting and passing lanes all period.
The Preds did have another chance to tie the game on a power play; but once the Blues killed it off, they took a 2-0 lead when Patrik Berglund pounced on a long rebound. Pekka Rinne was out of position and there was some traffic in front.
St. Louis tacked on to their lead on a five-minute man advantage, courtesy of a borderline hit from Jordin Tootoo on Carlo Colaiacovo. Tootoo was given a major penalty for charging on the play with 6:49 left in regulation. Matt D’Agostini scored the third and final goal of the night to cap off a 3-0 win for the Blues.
Post-Game Quotes: Barry Trotz on St. Louis:
“That’s a little taste of what the Central Division is all about right there. They play a real good team game, I think they have the lowest goals against, and they give up the least amount of shots in the league.”
Barry Trotz on Tootoo hit:
“I looked at it. Charging – he didn’t move his feet at all from top of the circles in. The big emphasis is on shots to the head and I saw a shoulder-to-shoulder check. To me he didn’t leave his feet. I’m a little bit confused on that. I thought it was a fairly clean hit.”
Final Thoughts: It simply wasn’t Nashville’s night, and you have to give a lot of credit to the Blues for capitalizing and getting the two points. The Preds were 15-1-3 at home against them since the lockout, so Payne’s gang exorcised some demons with this win. Halak was brilliant and stole the show in the first two periods.
Nashville will begin a five-game road trip on Saturday when they meet up with rival Detroit for the first time this season. Overall, the Preds will be away from home nine of their next ten games. It should be a good barometer of just how good this team is.