Martin Erat scored the lone goal in five rounds of shootout action to lift the Nashville Predators to a 2-1 victory at St. Louis tonight, giving them wins in all three games against their division rival so far this season. Pekka Rinne was stellar once again, making 35 of 36 saves to hold off a determined St. Louis squad during regular play, before turning aside all five shootout attempts, including a final stop on Kevin Shattenkirk to seal the win. Matt Halischuk scored in the first period to give the Preds a brief lead, followed by a T.J. Oshie goal later in that period which accounted for all the scoring in this one.
Follow after the jump for video highlights & reaction!
First the video (might take 30-45 minutes post-game to work):
Your random observations:
- The Preds came out with a refreshingly strong 1st period, something that's been lacking recently. There were some long, extended possessions in the offensive end driving the St. Louis D nuts, and that opening goal was a perfect example of what happens when you drive the puck toward the net, even meekly.
- David Backes really did a god job of using his size and strength against the smaller Nashville defensemen, and his bull rush out of the corner was a key factor in the goal by Oshie. It's that kind of presence that the Preds really lack up front.
- I'm usually not one to complain about the referees, but they really had their heads up their collective behinds tonight. Ticky-tac calls in the first period (McGrattan for boarding was pathetic), followed by the nonsensical non-call in the 3rd as Jackman drilled Hornqvist repeatedly into the net, even though the play had moved well away from them.
- I'll give credit where it's due, Brian McGrattan played an excellent game tonight in extremely limited action (3:54). During the first period, he played a big role in a keeping pressure in the St. Louis end, driving a shot on goal and moving pucks back to the point effectively. His forecheck also helped lead to the goal by Halischuk, although he didn't earn an assist on it.
- Did Sergei Kostitsyn dress tonight? He's been pretty much a non-factor lately.
- On the positive side... Roman Josi looks so freaking impressive with the puck on his stick. You have to like the 5 blocked shots as well.
- What a change of pace from the 3rd period to the OT, the 4-on-4 was pretty much all back-and-forth action.
- The shootout was interesting in a number of ways. You can tell Craig Smith is doing something, anything to score a goal, and perhaps got too fancy on his attempt. Halischuk going 4th? What's up with that?
- St. Louis has to be kicking themselves a bit, as I'm sure they felt they deserved a better outcome, but just like the last time these two teams played (December 17 in Nashville), Pekka made the difference.