By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators edged the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in front of 15 103 fans at Bridgestone Arena Thursday night to start the season 3-0.
Entering Thursday night’s contest, both St. Louis and Nashville were undefeated with 2-0-0 records. Jaroslav Halak had only let in 2 goals in 6 periods of play. Anders Lindback got his second start in as many days. Last night in Chicago, Lindback made 25 saves.
Despite having played 24 hours earlier, the Predators were all over the ice early on. Nashville opened the scoring on only its second shift, 56 seconds into the game. Marcel Goc was fed a pass from Colin Wilson and JP Dumont. He took the shot and as the puck rebounded off the players in front, Goc was able to bank the puck passed Halak with a wrist shot. It was his second goal of the season.
The Predators would took a 2-0 lead at 11:14 of the first when the Blues had two men in the box. Brad Boyes was in the box for holding when Blues captain Eric Brewer shot the puck over the boards and was called for a delay of game penalty just 10 seconds after Boyes had left the ice. Ryan Suter had a convincing fake shot that drew coverage, leaving Sullivan undefended. Suter passed Sullivan the puck and the Predators found themselves with a 2-0 lead.
St. Louis got on the board 2:30 minutes later. Matt D’Agostini was firmly lodged in front to Lindback and was able to tip-in a shot from Jay McClement. The lead was cut to 1 but would only remain a one goal game for 15 seconds. D’Agostini scored at 13:37 of the first and Steve Sullivan answered at 13:52.
The Predators and Blues would exchange power play goals in the middle frame. T.J. Oshie scored unassisted with Sergei Kostitsyn in the box for high sticking at 7:17 into the second period. Oshie kept control of the puck as Shea Weber slid across the ice to block the shot that Oshie never took. With Weber out of position, on the backhand, Oshie was alone with Lindback and roofed the puck high and into the back of the net. With under 4 minutes left to play Patric Hornqvist would answer Oshie’s goal, allowing Nashville to regain the two-goal lead as Cal O’Reilly set up his third straight Predators goal of the night at 16:21 of the middle frame. O’Reilly had taken the pass from Suter and Weber, shot the puck and Hornqvist was able to grab the rebound and score with a wrist shot.
The Blues cut the lead to one early in the third period. Patrik Berglund scored on the power play with Jordin Tootoo in the box for a double minor for roughing. With nearly 15 minutes left to play at that point in the game, there was a lot of nervous Predators fans in attendance, given that the team must have been tired having played the night before.
With both teams having their undefeated records on the line, the pressure to success was mounting. The Blues stepped up their game outshooting the Predators in the final frame 12-2 and in the game as a whole 35-22. The Blues had one last chance to send the game to overtime when Wednesday night’s hero was sent to the box with 1:03 minutes remaining to play. Joel Ward, who scored in Chicago with less than 30 seconds to play the night before, giving Nashville the 3-2 win, was called for tripping.
The Blues pulled Halak and maintained a 6 on 4 for the final minute of the game but were unable to tie the game before the final buzzer. Nashville moves on to Saturday night’s game against the Washington Capitals a perfect 3-0 on the season.
Hornqvist’s power play goal in the second period would hold on to be the game winner. It is the third consecutive game that the Predators scored the game winning goal on the man advantage. On the night, Nashville was 2 for 3 on the power play.
Nashville fans got some bad news when the game’s scratches were released. Matthew Lombardi didn’t play. Coach Barry Trotz said in the post game press conference that Lombardi is listed as day to day with an upper body injury after going into the boards last night.
Martin Erat also did not play. He sat out for the second game in a row with back spasms. Erat was put on injured reserve and won’t play on Saturday night either. Jamie Lundmark continues to be on injured reserve. For St. Louis, Cam Janssen was out with a concussion. Vladimir Sobotka and Nikita Nikitin are also listed on injured reserve for the Blues.
Next up for Nashville, the Predator face Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. Game time is 7 pm CT. Tickets are still available.
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. Predators upcoming home games include Saturday night’s contest against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, next Tuesday when the Calgary Flames are in town and a week from today when Canada’s national treasure, Sidney Crosby, makes his one visit to Smashville this year.