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Predators fall apart against St. Louis; lose 3-0

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"It's just the beauty of the game of hockey. The beauty of the game is that maybe the next night or two nights after you get to go out again and redeem yourself." - Steve Sullivan, 10/28/10.

Well, you can't win 'em all. As painful as tonight's game was to watch, lets keep this in mind moving forward. Nashville may not be the league's best team anymore, but 13 out of a possible 18 points is nothing to sneeze at. 

The Nashville Predators lost their first game in regulation tonight, getting shut out by Jaroslav Halak and the St. Louis Blues.

"We've got to play better as a 5-man unit. We had a couple of chances early but we didn't have much after that," captain Shea Weber said after the loss, which dropped Nashville to 5-1-3 with 13 points.

Pekka Rinne had 31 saves, while Halak made just 24 in blanking Nashville. Alexander Steen, Patrik Berglund, and Matt D'Agostini scored for St. Louis. It was, in short, a bad performance from a team that had started to play consistently. 

Follow after the jump for further reaction, advanced stats, and your video highlights. 

First, the video highlights (may be unavailable up to an hour post-game)...

Ten thought's on tonight's game: 

  • The biggest problem in the loss was clearly a failure by Nashville to stick with what works. There was no established forecheck, and St. Louis came ready to play. Last time out against the Predators, the Blues admitted to being outworked from the get go - this was not a problem tonight. 
  • Pekka Rinne, as usual, was everything necessary in net. It was always going to be rough sailing without Ryan Suter, however, and even moreso when Francis Bouillon missed time in the 2nd period. The defensive problem was at its height when Alexander Sulzer lost Alex Steen in front of Rinne, who promptly sent home a slick feed from David Perron for a 1-0 Blues lead. It would be the game winning goal. 
  • Nashville has played St. Louis two times. Each time, the game has gotten progressively chippier. The 3rd period of tonight's game, though, was by far the worst. Some time after Jordin Tootoo's hit on Carlo Colaiacavo, Matt D'Agostini scored the Blues' 3rd goal. The puck had been in the net for what seemed like a good period of time, when David Perron took a drive-by swat at Pekka Rinne. It was completely uncalled for, and Rinne was justifiably livid. 
  • "Jordin didn't move his feet at all from the top of the circles in. The big emphasis is on shots to the head and I saw a shoulder to shoulder check," Barry Trotz said of Jordin Tootoo's charging penalty and subsequent game misconduct in the 3rd period. Tootoo lined up Colaiacavo from the faceoff dot, and delivered what appeared to be a shoulder-to-shoulder hit after barely leaving his feet. Colaiacovo laid on the ice for an extended period, and the referees doled out 15 penalty minutes to Tootoo. It was no doubt an ugly-looking hit, and certainly worthy of a charging penalty. Beyond that, though, further discipline was probably unwarranted. 
  • One thing I noticed, and the game sheet confirmed, was Nashville's failure to pepper Halak with good shots. Besides the fact that they only got 24 shots on net, most of them were from the blueline and perimeter. No team in the NHL will be able to succeed from throwing weak shots in on the goaltender. 
  • As Dirk noted in his morning notes, the play of Alexander Sulzer has been encouraging in the absence of Ryan Suter. Tonight, that play was rewarded with nearly 23 minutes of ice time - 2nd most on the team behind Shea Weber. 
  • Sergei Kostitsyn was a reborn man tonight, at least in the 1st period. He doled out several surprising hits, and fought hard for pucks in front of the net. He'll have to turn it up to eleven in order to keep his place when Marcel Goc and Matthew Lombardi return, however. 
  • Just a few games ago, the major concern for Nashville was the penalty kill. Since the recall from Milwaukee of Nick Spaling, though, that has not been a problem. Spaling has yet to score an NHL goal, but has pretty much singlehandedly fixed the PK - and subsequently will deserve a prolonged look at a permanent stay in Nashville. 
  • Perhaps tonight's most baffling statistic was Colin Wilson's ice time. He logged the second lowest on the team (in front of Kostitsyn), but consistently provided the best offensive chances. He can stickhandle in a phone booth, and displayed that and an amazing passing ability several times tonight. One would assume that Coach Trotz is trying to protect his line defensively, but you can't win the game without scoring. 

So yeah, tonight was ugly. Besides the play of Rinne, just about nothing went right for the Predators. That's the beauty of an 82 game season, though. The Predators board a plane tomorrow and travel to Detroit. It'll be their first game against the Red Wings this year, and the chance to improve upon 5-1-3 awaits. 

Lastly, your advanced even-strength stats:

 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
 Cal O'Reilly C 14:34 0 0 0 0 11 8 +3 22 12 +10
 Patric Hornqvist R 13:44 6 1 0 0 9 9 0 17 13 +4
 Steve Sullivan L 13:40 0 2 0 0 8 11 -3 16 15 +1
 Martin Erat R 12:28 1 1 0 0 3 7 -4 7 14 -7
 Colin Wilson C 12:05 0 0 0 0 2 9 -7 5 15 -10
 Joel Ward R 11:33 1 1 1 1 7 4 +3 14 8 +6
 J-P Dumont R 11:23 2 0 0 1 5 6 -1 9 11 -2
 David Legwand C 11:19 1 0 0 0 6 3 +3 12 8 +4
 Jordin Tootoo R 11:19 3 3 1 0 6 5 +1 14 10 +4
 Sergei Kostitsyn L 9:18 0 1 0 0 3 4 -1 6 9 -3
 Nick Spaling C 8:15 1 1 0 0 2 7 -5 4 11 -7
 Jerred Smithson R 7:29 1 0 0 0 2 4 -2 4 7 -3
 Alexander Sulzer D 18:43 0 0 2 3 8 13 -5 15 22 -7
 Shea Weber D 17:50 3 0 1 2 9 11 -2 16 20 -4
 Shane O'Brien D 16:04 1 2 1 1 10 4 +6 19 10 +9
 Kevin Klein D 15:48 0 0 1 0 7 9 -2 16 14 +2
 Cody Franson D 14:41 1 2 1 1 5 8 -3 11 13 -2
 Francis Bouillon D 9:18 0 0 0 0 3 7 -4 9 11 -2

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