The Nashville Predators defeated the St Louis Blues in a shootout by the final of 2-1 during their final game of the regular season on Saturday night at the Bridgestone Arena. Marty Erat was the only scorer in the shootout to give the Preds the victory to end the 2009-10 regular season on a positive note.
Getting to 100 points in the competitive Western Conference was probably not something that most people expected prior to the start of the season.
“At the beginning of the year, if you told me we’d have 100, I would be pretty happy,” Preds coach Barry Trotz exclaimed.
The game was typical Nashville home game, with no scoring for the first two periods. It wasn’t until Shea Weber found Jason Arnott coming on the ice off of a change at 5:26 in the third period did either team find the net.
“My first thought was to shoot,” said Weber. “Then I saw Arnie’s little beaver tail slapping the ice over there so I tried to get it over and he made a good shot.”
The 1-0 lead held until David Backes tied the game at 10:18 when a pass to the back door gave him a clean shot at the net.
“He (Boyes) found me right in the wheelhouse and I was expecting a pass, “Backes explained. “He took the goalie and everything over (to the other side). I had the whole net open and almost missed it.”
In the shootout David Perron, Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes missed for the Blues while Preds forward Steve Sullivan missed the net, before Erat scored the shootout winner.
Predators Win on an Off Night…
Anyone who sat through the contest in person or on television would not describe the game as an exciting one to watch. In spite of the closeness of the game, there was little to generate much enthusiasm from the crowd.
“We got it done but it wasn’t the way we wanted,” Trotz said. “We didn’t have a lot of detail but we found a way to win and that’s been our mantra. We’ve found ways to win and 100 points is not a bad way to end the season.”
“It’s tough when you are in a playoff atmosphere but we wanted this win tonight, no question. We were flat in the first, but we picked it up in the second and third,” Arnott added. “I’ve got to hand it to them they came to play and they didn’t quit. They played for their jersey and they’re a hardworking team.”
Pekka Carries the Team…
The one player that was consistently outstanding the entire game was goaltender Pekka Rinne. He stood on his head and compensated for turnovers and defensive miscues where he was the last line of defense.
“We didn’t start the game well.” Pekka explained. “We played really well in the second period but we weren’t too happy. Obviously we’re really happy with these two points and tomorrow we will know more but it was a good win. It’s nice to get the last home win and that’s a pretty big thing momentum wise.”
“Pekka has been outstanding again,” Sullivan said about the efforts of his goalie. “I think that he definitely kept us in the ballgame. He gave us the first point and we were able to get the second. He was no different than he’s been throughout the season.”
One season ends, while another begins…
Possible playoff opponents will come from a list that includes Chicago, San Jose, Vancouver and Phoenix. Either Chicago or San Jose will finish first, while the Canucks have locked up the third spot and the Coyotes clinched the fourth seed.
The Preds ended Saturday in sixth place in the Western Conference with 100 points. Detroit is in fifth and also is at 100 points but plays Chicago on Sunday. If Detroit wins, they will have the tiebreaker over Nashville. If the Wings lose, the Preds would have the tiebreaker. The Kings are in seventh with 99 points. If they beat Colorado on Sunday, they will move past the Preds. If the Kings lose, then they will finish in seventh.