Predators outplay Blues; lose 2-1 in shootout

NASHVILLE TN - NOVEMBER 24: Brad Boyes #22 Andy McDonald #10 and David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate a goal against the Nashville Predators on November 24 2010 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

[SB Nation] - [Box Score] - [Game Summary] - [St. Louis Game Time]

The Nashville Predators did everything but beat the St. Louis Blues tonight, falling 2-1 in a shootout on their only national television appearance of the year. Nashville dominated even-strength play, outshooting the Blues 30-15. The penalty kill was perfect, and the power play showed some improvement, despite not scoring. 

"We played well enough to win," Nashville captain Shea Weber said. "We had some decent chances. Obviously, when you have 30 shots, you have to have some amount of chances. We've got to bear down when we do get those chances and put them in the back of the net."

In the end, though, the victory wasn't to be. Nashville now sits in 13th place in the West with 22 points. Follow after the jump for your recap complete with quotes and your video highlights. 

At 0:00 of the first period, the puck dropped on tonight's game. Nine seconds later, Andy McDonald put the puck in the net for a 1-0 Blues lead, courtesy mainly of, surprise surprise, a horrific defensive play from Kevin Klein. Pekka Rinne was somewhat slow with his glove, but the goal was really caused by Klein's miscue.

"It went off his stick and went in," Rinne said of the first goal, "its part of the game, sometimes you give up goals and thats it."

The Predators would go on to kill off two penalties, which created some momentum in their favor. Very few chances were given up, and the team really seemed to pick it up a notch after the better effort a man down. Nashville went on the power play at 14:54 of the 1st, and the results, despite being goalless, were encouraging. Marcel Goc started the power play between Steve Sullivan and Patric Hornqvist, and the Preds had much better puck and player movement. A notable wrinkle was Ryan Suter almost alone on the point with Shea Weber sneaking down the right boards. The period ended, but it seemed as if the ice was beginning to tilt. 

As the second began, our suspicions were confirmed. Just seconds in, Joel Ward led a rush down the the right wing, and muscled his way in for a shot on goal. Jaroslav Halak saved it, but the rebound popped out to Jerred Smithson who easily shot it past Halak for his 2nd goal of the year. 

"I was just coming down the middle and it came right to my stick; I just popped it in," Smithson said. 

Neither team would score again in the frame, but Nashville showed a clear improvement in the hustle department, and was able to kill off yet another penalty. Ryan Suter returned to his normal place of leading the team in ice time, and Jerred Smithson was a dominant 8/10 in the faceoff circle. Pekka Rinne made a couple key saves, and the period ended 1-1. 

The final frame was a wild affair, with quality chances exchanged at both ends throughout. Pekka Rinne was sharp, and the Predators withstood some chippy play from the Blues. Shea Weber and Jerred Smithson in particular took exception to

Vladimir Sobotka and Alexander Steen's treatment of Rinne. 

The Preds had several extended shifts in the Blues' zone, particularly from any line that contained Marcel Goc. The final 25 seconds were insane, with Ryan Suter, Jerred Smithson, and Joel Ward all almost putting the game away. It wasn't to be, though, and the game went to overtime. 

Overtime was a less stressful affair, with neither team asserting themselves beyond a few weak shots on net. Barry Trotz elected to go with Cal O'Reilly, Marcel Goc, Martin Erat, Steve Sullivan, and Sergei Kostitsyn in the shootout, and none of them scored. Kostitsyn, the final shooter, rang his attempt off the pipe and the Blues walked away with a stolen point in front of 16,603 in Smashville. 

"There's going to be games where you deserve to win, and then there's going to be games you sort of steal. This one I thought we deserved to win and they're leaving here with an extra point," Predators coach Barry Trotz remarked in his post game press conference. 

It was a frustrating game, to be sure, but Nashville's penalty kill and team defense have seen a marked improvement since the Toronto debacle.

"We played well enough to win the game, it was just one of those days we couldn't find the back of the net, and thats the way it goes sometimes," Joel Ward stated, and that pretty much summed up the evening. 

If the team's best players can be their best players, then the wins will come. Patience, they say, is a virtue, and we'd all do well to show some on a night that could be more depressing than it should. 

Your video highlights: 


GAME NOTES: 

  • Marcel Goc, in the absence of David Legwand, logged a season high 21:15. 
  • Jerred Smithson was by far Nashville's best skater on this night, finishing the game with six hits, 12/17 on the faceoff dot, and the team's only goal. 
  • Ryan Suter returned, and didn't seem to skip a beat. Shea Weber, as usual, looks much more comfortable with Robin Suter by his side. 
  • The three stars of the game were Andy McDonald, Jaroslav Halak, and Pekka Rinne, but its a small tragedy that Smithson didn't merit a mention. 
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