In the first leg of a three-day, two-game miniseries with the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues, the Nashville Predators found themselves in a place they had no intentions of being at the start of the season: 6th place in the Central. Frustrations, rumors, and accusations of blame had run rampant through social media in the days leading up to this matchup, so all eyes were on the golden boys to see if they could take the first step in the right direction with a massive win against a division rival on the road. Juuse Saros got the start in net as Nashville took a massive 2 points from the Blues, winning 4-2.
When you’re trying to get out of a slump, a big moment early in a game can help wake up the team. Filip Forsberg did just that, putting one past Jordan Binnington just 20 seconds into the game. Adding to the early success, Mattias Ekholm sent a shot towards the net from up high which bounced and rebounded its way into the net to increase the lead to two. This momentum was carried into an elongated 5-on-3 power play, and while the Predators failed to convert on the man advantage, Nashville was playing like their fans had almost forgotten they were able to. It wasn’t until late in the period Klim Kostin was able to cut the lead in half for the Blues, but Colton Sissons quickly answered with a goal of his own. With the score at 3-1 in favor of the visiting Preds, the first period was over.
After a high-flying first period, the second period turned down goal scoring. Neither team scored, but Viktor Arvidsson was nowhere to be found to start the period, and later was ruled out for the night, after taking a nasty crosscheck to the lower back courtesy of Robert Bortuzzo. Both teams had shots on the man advantage, but neither team capitalized. The teams entered a crucial third period with the same score they entered the second at.
The third period appeared to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, as there were no goals in the final 20 minutes until less than five minutes in the game. Eventually, Alex Pietrangelo scored to make it a one-goal game late, but Calle Järnkrok answered back with an empty-net goal in the final minute to put the nail in the coffin for this one. Nashville got a much-needed morale boost and a much-needed two points to fight their way back into the Central Division race.
- The Predators are in a slump? Forsberg didn’t get the memo. 1-0 Preds.
- A fire seems to have been lit under this team. We’re also not even 240 seconds into the game, so let’s see if it holds.
- MATTY EKHOLM! Not the prettiest goal, but I don’t think Nashville can be picky these days. 2-0 Preds.
- Power play opportunity for Nashville. Hard to think of ways it could be going any better at the moment *furiously knocks on wood*
- Egregious crosscheck on Arvy (stop me if you’ve heard this before), and the Preds are on the 5-on-3.
- No luck on either of the man advantages, Preds back to even strength.
- Late in the first, Blues get on the board in transition. They’re the reigning champs for a reason. 2-1 Preds.
- Power play opportunity for St. Louis with four minutes left in the period. Let’s hope that penalty kill has been tweaked since last game.
- BIG penalty kill there, featuring a near goal on a Forsberg breakaway.
- Sissons finds himself in the right place at the right time, and powers the puck into the net to bring the Preds’ lead back to two. 3-1 Preds.
- That’ll do it for the first 20. Now is a good time to quickly change the channel for a second and gaze at those beautiful Grizzlies throwbacks.
- No Arvidsson to start the second. Happy to see that, even after winning the Stanley Cup, the Blues find time to be the dirtbags we all know and love.
- Power play opportunity for the Blues, but another penalty kill for the Preds. Who knew the special teams could look so competent?
- Nashville will finish the period on the power play due to the second dirty play of the night from Bennington.
- No dice for the Preds on the man-up, and that will do it for two periods.
- Saros is really coming up big here in the third. Blues have had 3-4 high high high danger chances and he’s kept them all out.
- Blues continue to increase pressure; Preds really need to get the puck going the other direction.
- Late power play for the Blues here. A stop could all but lock this game up.
- No goal on the power play, but Blues score shortly after. 3-2 Preds late in the third.
- Empty net for the Blues late, here’s the game folks.
- Calle Järnkrok wraps this one up with an empty netter. 4-2, game-set-match.
OTF’s Three Stars of the Game
- Filip Forsberg— Got the Preds on the board early, and sent a message to the panic-ridden fans at home that they had things under control.
- Juuse Saros— Kept the Preds afloat in big moments.
- Calle Järnkrok— Iced the game with his empty-net goal.
Tweets of the Night
I’m going to be radical and say that Bortuzzi should’ve gotten a double minor or a 5 minute major. The second cross check was totally excessive and attack a vulnerable player— Link (@3DLink) November 24, 2019
Bortuzzo and Binnington tried to murder Arvidsson earlier, but this ref will be damned if guys try to cheat on the faceoff.— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) November 24, 2019