The Nashville Predators were singing the blues heading into their Christmas break. Some time off was just what they needed to get back on track.
The Nashville Predators returned from their Christmas break & jumped right into the fire. The first place St. Louis Blues welcomed the Predators to the Scottrade Center for some Wednesday night fun. A meeting between two of the NHL’s top goalies was expected to be close & low-scoring, and that’s exactly what we got.
The Filip Forsberg/Calle Jarnkrok/Pontus Aberg line got the start. St. Louis got the first five shots, which doesn’t count one clanging off the post. The Predators went on the power play 2:30 into the game after Scottie Upshall interferes. Jake Allen made an incredible save on a Ryan Johansen shot, and that’s as close as the Predators got to scoring on that PP.
Viktor Arvidsson doesn’t even need a stick to play the game, he lost his and he’s still going after the puck like a maniac. Speaking of maniacs, Scott Hartnell & Robert Bortuzzo have a fight halfway into the period after Bortuzzo pushes somebody into Pekka Rinne. Hartnell loses his balance & ends up in the net. Roman Josi fires the puck towards the net & Craig Smith tips it in for the first goal of the game with 9:23 left in the first period.
The rest of the period passes without more additions to the scoring column. Watching Upshall go back & forth with a couple of Predators was pretty fun. Both teams are getting their share of chances, but like their first meeting, goals are hard to come by so far.https://twitter.com/PredsNHL/status/946192074562506756
I don’t usually mention Lyndsay Rowley’s stellar intermission reports, but everybody on Twitter lost their minds over Shirtless Craig Smith. So here’s that.
Arvidsson gets called for a trip 37 seconds into the period, but the Blues’ PP elapses without anything of note. Kevin Fiala went 1 on 4 and drew a penalty from Upshall for slashing at 6:22. No real chances on that power play. Lots of equipment being lost in this game. The Kyle Turris line gets a bunch of chances but Allen shuts them down. Roman Josi slaps one right into Allen’s glove a couple of minutes later.
The drought ends when Forsberg hooks up Jarnkrok for a bomb over Allen’s shoulder! The Nashville Predators go up 2-0 with 3:11 left in the second period. Matt Irwin collects an assist as well. The Forsberg/Jarnkrok/Aberg line has been highly successful since its formation.
Joel Edmondson misses a wide-open net to bring the Blues within one shortly after. Josi gets stopped by Allen after getting loose from the rest of the pack. The second period comes to an end with the Nashville Predators up two goals.
A linesman goes down awkwardly less than a minute into the period after a Blue catches him from behind. He heads off the ice, so we’ll see if the change to the officiating crew makes an impact. The Blues’ first line gets some good chances early. Rinne holds them off! The Blues dominate play early, but the Nashville Predators go on the power play when Brayden Schenn interferes with Rinne at 3:55. The Predators don’t get on the board, but Rinne gets a breather.
Patrik Berglund high-sticks Colton Sissons and got called for a double minor at 7:58, giving the Predators a four minute power play. P.K. Subban lost his helmet in a hairy situation. It feels like the Blues are getting better chances here. Alex Pietrangelo makes some good plays on defense and the double minor is killed off.
Not long after, Alexei Emelin turns over the puck, and the Blues get on the board with 6:23 left in the game. Vladimir Sobotka gets the tip-in with assists from Kyle Brodziak & Pietrangelo. Brodziak nearly gets another one a couple of minutes later. Allen leaves the net at the two minute mark & the Blues have an extra skater. They win a face-off in the neutral zone & make a final push. Forsberg makes a trip & gets called for a penalty with mere seconds left! The clock expires, but 1.3 seconds will be added on to give the Blues one more chance. Colton Sissons makes the face-off tricky enough to ensure the win for the Nashville Predators!
Third Star: Jake Allen
Simply put, the St. Louis Blues don’t have a chance to tie this game at the end if Jake Allen isn’t bailing them out in goal all night. Nashville had a number of chances to put this game away, but Allen made the big saves and kept things manageable for his team. He’s a large reason the Blues are much higher in the standings than people were expecting heading into the season.
Second Star: Roman Josi
The Captain got engaged during his time off, bringing tears to the eyes of most ladies in Middle Tennessee. If his play tonight is any indication, his fiancee won’t be getting any heat for his performance. Josi played the most minutes, got off a good shot for Craig Smith to tip in & was tied with Forsberg & Turris for the most shots on goal. Josi leads the Nashville Predators into the valley of the shadow of death, and Predators fans fear no evil when he is there.
First Star: Pekka Rinne
Rinne had struggled his last two outings, so the Christmas break came just in time to refresh his legs. He didn’t match his first outing in St. Louis this season, but he did get 29 saves on 30 shots & showed the form that put him among the best goalies of the first two months of the season. He’s been on fire on the road, winning his last four games & scoring two shutouts in that span. If that trend continues, the Predators will be as dangerous on the road as they are at home during the playoffs.
The Nashville Predators travel to Minnesota on Friday night to start a rare back to back home & home series with the Wild. Friday night’s game will air on NBCSN & coverage will start at 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT. You can listen on 102.5 The Game.