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Predators 3, Blues 1: Pekka is the Reason They're Blue

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The Predators took an early 2-0 lead against the Blues in Nashville and then a goaltending battle broke out. The following is a metaphor for said battle:

Don't bring a knife to a Pekka Rinne fight.

Nashville struck first early on the power play. St. Louis' PK aggressively attacked Weber and Suter, but the forwards supported the puck well and Hornqvist found Erat open at the point, where he scored on a 50-foot slap shot. After withstanding continued pressure from St. Louis, the Predators countered with a solid forechecking shift from their top line. Kostitsyn found Fisher in front of the net, who used a nifty drag-play to beat Halak at 12:30.

The second period was notable mostly for the Preds' inability to finish off the Blues. Jaroslav Halak was a perfect 17-17, stopping many second efforts, and causing a frustrated Colin Wilson to break his stick over his knee Bo Jackson-style in the period's final minute.

Not to outdone, though, Pekka Rinne's third frame was even more spectacular, with 19 saves, 2 of the career highlight reel variety. Chris Porter put the fear into Preds' fans hearts when he picked Roman Josi's pocket and cut the deficit to one at 4:01. But from there on out, Pekka stole the show, making unbelievable sprawling glove saves at 9:17 and 11:18 on Matt D'Agostini and Kris Russell, respectively. The Kris Russell save was a stop of the year candidate. (Video).

Sergei Kostitsyn scored the empty-netter, on a pass from David Legwand, proving once and for all that:

1. Sergei is the shooting% king.

2. The Preds will pass on every odd-man rush, even if there isn't a goalie.

Notes, highlights, & Brian McGrattan fighting after the jump.

Brian McGrattan fought. It's been a while, so it was fun to see.

He was cut, but in control the whole time, and won solidly. Also nice to see Big Ern's trademarked sociopathic smile at Reaves, before they started throwing.

If more people actually cared about how well fighters fought, and not just that they did it, people'd be talking about McGrattan's year like it's the enforcer's answer to Gretzky in '82. He hasn't fought terribly much, but every time he has, it's an instant classic.

Other notes:

  • The Predators and the Blues are a contrast in styles, both at even strength and on special teams. At even strength, the Blues pushed play with quick changes and quick outlet passes from the neutral zone into the Preds' defensive zone. At one point, St. Louis trapped Ryan Ellis and Francis Bouillon in a solid 90 second+ shift. That's worrisomely the third time that's happened in Ryan Ellis' young career. The Preds weathered that storm and others, and generated offense their way on a solid, physical forecheck.
  • The first period happened at a frantic, playoff pace. 30 shots in that period alone gives you an idea.
  • McGrattan did well to set the tone physically early with a few huge checks on his first shift. It was a typically chippy game, with Pekka losing his mask, Hornqvist getting run around, Tootoo jacking people, and David Legwand giving Jamie Langenbrunner a chiropractic adjustment, gratis.
  • Craig Smith is strong on the puck. I feel like I write this every time. He's has Tootoo's speed, but unlike Tootoo, doesn't cough pucks up like a Pez dispenser.
  • David Legwand saved a goal at 6:54 in the second.
  • Your bi-weekly Sergei-Kostitsyn-Mike-Fisher-2-on-1-in-which-no-one-shoots also happened in the second.
  • The Predators are now second in the Central Division and Detroit is losing to the Oilers.