The Nashville Predators pushed their record over the past five seasons against St. Louis to 24-6-3, thanks to a 4-3 victory tonight on the Blues' home ice. The victory wasn't without cost, however, as both Kevin Klein and Martin Erat left the game during the first period after objectionable hits from the Blues that went without a penalty.
Click the picture above for more photos from tonight's game, then follow after the jump for video highlights, the recap, and advanced even-strength statistics...
Klein took a hit to the head from behind by Keith Tkachuk (the very opening seconds of the highlights above), which led to a turnover at the St. Louis blueline and ultimately the initial goal of the game, just 1:29 in. Klein did come back to take one more brief spin on the ice (4 seconds), before heading to the dressing room with an undisclosed upper-body injury. UPDATE: A report out of Milwaukee indicates that Alexander Sulzer is going to be recalled to Nashville, possibly as soon as Wednesday.
The line of Patric Hornqvist, Marcel Goc and J.P. Dumont, however, answered a few minutes later; Goc got the goal and Dumont the primary assist, but it was Hornqvist who was right on top of St. Louis goaltender Chris Mason, providing a screen and getting dumped after the play for his trouble. The Blues tried to get rough with Hornqvist and many other Preds the entire night long, leading to 8 power play opportunities for Nashville, along with several other incidents which went uncalled.
After Hornqvist put the Preds up 2-1, Nashville lost the services of Martin Erat when he caught a knee-to-knee hit from Blues defenseman Barret Jackman. Erat tried to spin away from the hit but Jackman pretty much railroaded him (the video is unfortunately not included in the NHL highlights). Although Erat sat on the bench for the remainder of the period, he didn't return to the game.
Joel Ward pushed the lead to 3-1 in the second period on a 5-on-3 power play, before J.P. Dumont had probably the prettiest goal of the game, taking a pass from Shea Weber at the Nashville blueline and speeding down the right wing, blowing by Darryl Sydor to the outside and cutting in to tuck a shot under Mason for a seemingly safe three goal lead.
St. Louis battled gamely back, eventually making it 4-3, but held themselves back by taking a series of needless penalties. While Pekka Rinne didn't have an outstanding night in goal (the 1st and 2nd St. Louis goals were pretty soft), he did take charge of the situation in the 3rd period when T.J. Oshie chased a loose puck into the Nashville end. Rinne dashed out of the net to play the puck, well above the faceoff circle, and tumbled down to the ice in a collision with Oshie. It prevented a dangerous breakaway opportunity for the Blues.
In the end, this game was probably closer than it should have been, but when you've lost three straight, any win is a good win. It's on to Columbus on Thursday, before coming back to Nashville for a 4-game home stand that starts Saturday against Anaheim, a game which is close to selling out.
Looking at the advanced stats (resorted now by forwards and then defense, in descending order of Even Strength ice time), the lines got shuffled somewhat due to the injuries, but Andres Thuresson had a fine night filling in Jerred Smithson's role on the Legwand line, he took every opportunity to finish his checks and get the puck deep in the St. Louis end. Ryan Jones also had a productive night, drawing two penalties from Tkachuk. But the real catalyst right now seems to be Patric Hornqvist; when he gets the puck, he shoots it, and when he doesn't get it, he's usually in front of the net creating havoc for opponents.
|Even Strength||Individual Totals||Team Totals While Player Is On Ice|
|Player||Pos||EV TOI||Shots||Shts Blkd||Missed Shts||Blocks||SOG For||SOG Ag||SOG +/-||Tot SF||Tot SA||Corsi|
|J P Dumont||R||11:20||1||1||0||0||7||4||3||14||5||9|