Predators 4, Blues 2: It's The Craig Smith Experience

Zack Stortini dropped the gloves in his first regular season game as a Pred. In the background, Scott Nichol stares agape in the presence of Huggy Bear's fury.

The Nashville Predators pushed their record to 2-0 with a 4-2 triumph in St. Louis, on the strength of four points from David Legwand, three from Craig Smith, and 31 saves from Pekka Rinne, who bailed out a Preds team that was outshot 33-16 over the course of the game. Granted, Legwand's two goals consisted of an empty-netter and a pass which bounced off a Blue into the net, but hey, they all count...

Follow after the jump for the scoop!

First up, the video highlights...

Scattered thoughts on tonight's game:

  • That initial Blues score came after the Preds got caught following the puck rather than manning up defensively, Cal O`Reilly even looked toward Patrik Berglund, but didn't actually move to cover him.
  • Smith showed that knack for finding the loose puck once again to tie it up, jumping on the rebound of Shea Weber's point shot. It's all about getting the front of the net at the right time, in a position to play the puck. All I know is, I'm glad I added him to my Fantasy Hockey team on Friday!
  • I was worried about Jack Hillen taking too many penalties, and headed to the box again for Holding tonight. Those kinds of Hooking/Holding/Tripping penalties are the sign of a defenseman losing position, not a good sign at all.
  • Of course, it wasn't just Hillen taking penalties, you had a steady stream of Preds heading to the box in the 2nd, but the PK gave a strong effort. I really like the one shot block by Patric Hornqvist, coming out towards the point with his stick down like a goalie's, taking more of the shooting lane away. Smart stuff.
  • Leggy's goal to put Nashville up 2-1 was a nice bit o' fortune, but you take those when they come. We all know how the bounces can quickly turn the other way!
  • And just a few seconds later, Pekka Rinne absolutely stoned T.J. Oshie from right in front of the net to preserve the lead, one that should get bookmarked for the season's highlight reel.
  • O'Reilly's tripping call which led to the Arnott goal seemed to be a case of getting overly excited about the rush up-ice, as he was the trailing forward but still got caught a bit deep as the play reversed. In the final 10 minutes while nursing a 1-goal lead, you've got to be more responsible than that. That whole Halischuk-O'Reilly-Tootoo line had a pretty horrible night.
  • What about Klein's goal, though? That was as savvy a play as one could ask for, faking the shot and walking down to pick his spot to give Nashville a 3-2 lead. If he can show more than occasional flashes of offensive play like that, he could take his game up another level.
  • Moments later, Colin Wilson showed something that will surely help him in Barry Trotz's eyes; he skated hard to negate an icing call behind the Blues' net, then hustled to break up a potential scoring chance on the backcheck seconds later.
  • Pekka Rinne was simply outstanding once again, but I'm sure the coaches will have plenty to lecture the team about this week in practice. Getting outshot 2-to-1 is not a formula for success, no matter how tall or Nordic your keeper is.
As for your advanced even-strength stats... not a single Pred finished with a positive Corsi, showing how much St. Louis dominated the flow of the play, but Nashville was able to cash in their chances:
 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
 Nick Spaling C 15:29 1 0 0 0 5 7 -2 9 16 -7
 Sergei Kostitsyn L 15:29 0 2 0 0 4 7 -3 10 15 -5
 Matt Halischuk R 13:22 1 0 1 0 1 13 -12 2 20 -18
 Jerred Smithson R 12:16 0 0 0 2 1 7 -6 6 12 -6
 David Legwand C 12:08 1 0 0 1 4 5 -1 9 17 -8
 Patric Hornqvist R 12:05 1 0 1 2 4 3 +1 7 7 0
 Cal O'Reilly C 10:56 0 0 0 0 0 10 -10 2 16 -14
 Jordin Tootoo R 10:51 0 2 1 0 0 12 -12 4 19 -15
 Blake Geoffrion C 9:42 0 0 1 1 1 6 -5 5 9 -4
 Craig Smith C 9:40 0 1 1 1 3 5 -2 8 13 -5
 Colin Wilson C 9:24 0 3 0 0 3 4 -1 8 11 -3
 Zack Stortini R 4:53 1 0 0 0 1 2 -1 2 4 -2
 Ryan Suter D 18:51 0 0 0 1 3 10 -7 8 19 -11
 Jonathon Blum D 18:44 1 0 0 1 5 8 -3 9 19 -10
 Shea Weber D 17:09 1 0 0 0 1 10 -9 6 18 -12
 Kevin Klein D 16:48 1 2 0 3 6 8 -2 10 19 -9
 Jack Hillen D 10:38 1 0 0 2 2 9 -7 8 16 -8
 Teemu Laakso D 8:45 0 0 0 2 1 9 -8 7 15 -8
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