By Amanda DiPaolo
St. Louis won their third straight contest Sunday night shutting out the Predators 2-0. Nashville are now losers of their last four games.
Before the puck dropped Sunday night, the Predators must have known the game wouldn’t be easy, despite riding a five-game winning streak on the road in St. Louis. The Predators had David Legwand, Steve Sullivan and Martin Erat all out of the lineup with lower body injuries. Matthew Lombardi was also out of the lineup and has been since suffering a concussion the second game of the season against Chicago.
To make matters worse for the Predators, because it snowed in Nashville, the team arrived an hour later than schedule Sunday and the game was a 6pm central time start instead of the normal 7 pm start time fans and players alike are accustomed to in St. Louis.
Injuries and timing still do not excuse the fact that the Predators have now scored a total of three goals in their last four games.
The first period was scoreless, despite Nashville looking sluggish to begin being out shot in the early going 5-1. The Predators would eventually find their footing and end up outshooting the Blues 12-11 in the first period.
The Predators did have a couple of good scoring chances.
Nick Spaling almost scored his second NHL goal with just 5:40 left in the period. Coming in off the rush, Spaling’s shot hit the crossbar.
Patric Hornqvist had a breakaway on Jaroslav Halak when the two Blues defenders went off the ice at the same time after yelling at the forwards to dump the puck deep in the Nashville zone. St. Louis was unable to get the puck across the Predators zone, creating a wide-open left side of the rink, leaving Hornqvist to be sent in alone with just under five minutes left in the opening period. He was unable to capitalize.
The Blues got the lone goal at 2:45 of the second period despite being out shot (18-8) and outplayed for most of it. David Backes scored his eighth of the season when his shot was sent high, glove side on Rinne as a result of a turnover by Cody Franson. Franson was trying to clear the puck on his backhand and up the middle of the rink when it was intercepted by the Blues.
Linus Klasen, Marcel Goc and Sergei Kostitsyn really gelled together as a line in the second period. Klasen, in for Erat, showed some creativity and helped the Predators maintain puck possession for an extended shift, with Ryan Suter and Shea Weber on the blueline. Nashville pressed but were unable to get anything past Halak.
Going into the third period, Nashville had a 24-19 shot advantage over the Blues and would end up with a 32-26 advantage, but nothing to show for it.
The third period’s highlights include the only penalty of the game being called with 4:47 left to play in regulation. Joel Ward was called for tripping Carlo Colaiacovo. The Predators had allowed a power play goal in each of the last five games but managed to kill of the Blues man advantage.
With 17 seconds left in the third period, David Backes scored an empty net goal to end Nashville’s attempts at an equalizer.
It was Halak’s fourth shutout of the year and second against Nashville this season.
The Predators will try to end the losing skid on Tuesday night when they host Dallas at Bridgestone Arena. Only limited tickets remain for the 7pm game.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount.