The Nashville Predators lost in a shootout for the second consecutive game tonight, but they looked like a different team than the one that lost to Columbus two nights ago.
Colin Wilson opened the scoring for Nashville at 9:10 of the first period, burying a shot high on Jaroslav Halak’s block side after Patric Hornqvist threaded a pass to him entering the zone. It was Wilson’s first point of the year and a nice start after he looked flat in the first game.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as Vladimir Tarasenko beat Pekka Rinne with a pretty wrister. Tarasenko got another break into the Nashville zone a few minutes later but was stopped by David Legwand, who took a hooking penalty to break up the chance. But the Blues scored on the ensuing power play, Andy McDonald from Tarasenko, to take a 2-1 lead.
Nashville closed out the first period scoring with a power play goal of their own. Hornqvist passed to Erat on the left wing entering the zone and made for the net, before Erat dished to Mike Fisher in the slot. Fisher beat Halak glove-side to tie the game. Then Hornqvist put the Preds up 3-2 with this beauty on the power play:
With 7:07 left in the game Blues coach Ken Hitchcock went to the bullpen and Brian Elliott replaced Halak in net. Elliott was able to hold the Predators scoreless but not for any lack of opportunity. Sergei Kostitsyn whiffed on one chance and went wide of the net on another, and Colin Wilson couldn’t get control of the puck on another chance in the slot. They held the lead going to the third period.
The third period saw the Preds continue to play well, but St. Louis didn’t back down. They finally broke through when they kept the Preds pinned in their own zone on a long shift; Alex Pietrangelo took a pass in the far corner and scored on a nasty angle at 12:10. After a scoreless remainder of the third and overtime, the Blues won the shootout on tallies from T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen.
The Preds played competitive hockey the entire game and could’ve won if one or two bounces had gone differently. They still looked a bit slow at times in the third period, particularly when they were caught in their own zone on an extended shift before Pietrangelo scored. Their power play also went 0-for-2 in the third period after going 2-for-3 earlier in the game, with St. Louis denying them so much as a shot on goal during Jaden Schwartz’s penalty for delay of game.
Patric Hornqvist finished with three points (1G-2A) for Nashville, while Martin Erat picked up two assists and Mike Fisher had a goal an assist. Pekka Rinne looked more like himself and stopped 36 of 39 shots in the loss.
The team not only looked better than they did on Saturday, but they looked better against a much tougher team in St. Louis. A win would’ve been a lot better than the shootout loss. Considering the team has lost two games but still has a point in the standings from each, the two-game home stand counts the same in the standings as winning one game and losing another in regulation. This team looked more like the Nashville Predators tonight, so with any luck at all they’ll continue to improve rapidly and finally break through tomorrow with a win against Ryan Suter and the Minnesota Wild.
The Preds were without center Paul Gaustad, who was scratched before the game and is questionable for tomorrow night at Minnesota.
New face Rich Clune made his first appearance in Nashville gold. He took a boarding penalty at 4:55 of the first period and only managed 4:53 of ice time.