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Nashville Predators 2, St. Louis Blues 3: Not Really That Close

That was bad.

NHL: Nashville Predators at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators played the first of a pair of back-to-back midday matinees against the suddenly-hot St. Louis Blues today.

The game started with fisticuffs between Cody McLeod and Patrick Maroon, which sparked the Preds all the way to allowing an awful goal when Filip Forsberg (double-shifted on the fourth line while McLeod served the penalty) collided with Rinne, allowing Vince Dunn to pick up the rebound.

Craig Smith proceeded to potentially injure himself in the process of getting called for kneeing against Oskar Sundqvist, which is not something you see every day. The Blues’ power play got to work, spent some time in its own end against Forsberg and Ryan Johansen, and finished the power play without scoring again. Smith exited the penalty box and promptly went offside.

The game opened up as the period continued, with both teams getting good chances and both goalies having to keep busy. The Predators carried most of the balance of the play for a while, with several good sequences for the top six, but the Blues eventually started pushing back.

With only a little over a minute left in the period, Vladimir Tarasenko, left uncovered in the slot, extended the Blues’ lead to two goals. Seconds after that Sundqvist almost made it 3-0 but in the scramble the puck somehow stayed out. Sundqvist actually ended up somersaulting over Pekka Rinne, who nudged Sundqvist’s dropped stick out of the crease in response. Both teams were displeased by that sequence.

The Blues started the second period off very strongly, setting up a seemingly-permanent encampment in the Predators’ zone, before an extended, all-encompassing scuffle broke out in front of the Predators’ bench that involved all ten skaters on the ice. No penalties were assessed.

Sundqvist got called for tripping moments after getting cross-checked into the ground by Roman Josi and moments before Calle Järnkrok was sent spinning across the ice during the delayed penalty. I don’t even know what to say about the refereeing at this point; it’s been terrible. That’s not even a complaint as a Preds fan—those Josi cross-checks after the first were ugly and Rinne moving Sundqvist’s stick should have been an automatic—so much as as a hockey fan. “Let them play” makes the game needlessly dangerous.

The Predators scored on the ensuing power play as Mattias Ekholm bounced a puck in off Jordan Binnington’s arm. The Predators had a chance to tie it up not long after, but Colton Parayko made a great defensive play to break up a chance by the JOFA line and before much longer rookie MacKenzie MacEachern (no, really) got the Blues’ two-goal lead back after the fourth or so time in just a few seconds that the Predators didn’t clear the rebound.

With just under six minutes still to go in the second, Nick Bonino was called for holding. The Predators were able to kill off the penalty but not to score again before the period ended. Regrettably, intermission ended before too long and play resumed. The Predators started the third period in the offensive zone for a bit, but were unable to cash in, and before too long were back in their own end again.

Kyle Turris got called for interference and the Predators went back on the penalty kill. They were able to keep the Blues not just from scoring but from getting a shot on goal, but at this point I’d say any penalty kill that didn’t involve scoring shorthanded is not what the Preds needed.

Ryan Johansen scored with Rinne pulled for the extra attacker and 1:15 to go, but weren’t able to get the game to overtime.

Random Observations:

  • Thanks to technical difficulties I missed everything up to the replay of Dunn’s goal. Hopefully now that I’m here the Preds will show up too.
  • Also, it was not a good goal to allow.
  • Noooot a Maroon fan.
  • Craig Smith not doing himself any favors today, which is basically the story of his life.
  • I’m not sure I’m ready for the number of people who feel the need to inform us that Brian Boyle is “a big boy”.
  • I can’t believe “someone cover Tarasenko” is the kind of thing you still have to tell people, and yet here we are. Were the Preds reading St. Louis reporting from December?
  • MacKenzie MacEachern might have the best name in hockey right now.
  • Refs are sleeping through this one.
  • Refs are REALLY sleeping through this one.
  • Zero pushups for Bobby!
  • I like Parayko but I would like him to be less useful now, please.
  • Concept: the Preds, but capable of playing hockey while it’s still light outside.
  • I’m rethinking that Winter Classic thing.
  • Järnkrok just cleared a rebound. Are we sure that’s allowed?
  • There are still over twelve minutes left in this game
  • Hey, remember what I said about covering Tarasenko twenty years ago back in the first period?
  • The crowd is singing “Country Roads, Take Me Home” and I, too, am ready to be taken home.
  • Rinne out for the extra skater, too late for optimal chances.
  • This refereeing is still bad.
  • Johansen! I’m liking his goals lately.

OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game:

  1. Mattias Ekholm: scored a goal, led Preds defenders in shot share, limited shot quality against well.
  2. Craig Smith and Colton Sissons: put some effort in without any reward. Smith’s 64% shot share at 5v5 was tied for best on the team, and Sissons had either the best (Corsica) or second-best (Moneypuck) expected goals share at 5v5.
  3. Ryan Johansen: too little, too late, but that goal gave us hope for a bit.

Tweets of the Day:

(I hear Mark Stone gets pumped after fights! Maybe GMDP should look to acquire him.)

(Note: in seriousness I’ve never actually looked into which players score more after teammates of theirs fight, and to my knowledge neither has anyone else. If I’m wrong let me know; it’d be neat to look at.)

(The Jets ended up losing 5-1.)

And hey: