We knew what the storyline was headed into this game. This was Viktor Arvidsson’s first game against the Blues since missing twelve games following Robert Bortuzzo’s vicious cross check. Likewise, this was the first time Bortuzzo faced the Predators since that incident, and therefore, the first chance for the Preds to deliver some “hockey justice.”
And at the end of the day, that justice came on the scoresheet.
Arvidsson scored the game’s first goal, and everything about the play perfectly encompassed Arvy’s past handful of months since the injury. It started when he was knocked to the ice after a big hit. How did he respond? He sped towards the net with a fury, and he blasted in a goal.
You could see how much that meant to him. His celebration was one of the more emphatic ones we’ve seen from Arvidsson over the years, which is saying something considering the amount of emotion we’ve seen him play with. The staredown at the Blues’ faithful was the cherry on top.
Of course, we saw Jarred Tinordi eventually challenge Bortuzzo to a fight, which turned out to be uneventful. Neither guy really landed any punches. Whatever.
The Predators got their revenge where it counted. They got a 4-3 win over the first place team in the division, and inched closer to that all-important final wild card spot.
The above-mentioned fight was expected. The first one? Not so much.
Not even five minutes in, Filip Forsberg and Brayden Schenn get tangled up in front of the Blues’ net, the two starting shoving each other, and they wind up dropping the mitts. Schenn, who’s the more experienced fighter, gets a number of punches in, but Forsberg does a good job of dodging them, and lands a shot of his own. That’s only Fil’s second career fight, which if you remember, wasn’t exactly MMA-quality either.
Oh by the way, there was actually hockey played during this first period slug-fest. And if you’re a Preds fan, it was hockey you’d actually like! Nashville came right out of the gate with several chances Jake Allen was just able to stop, and kept the pressure in St. Louis’s end for most of the period. The Predators outshot the Blues 8-1 in the first half of the period, and Natural Stat Trick only credited with the Blues with two shot attempts total.
That constant pressure eventually leads to Arvy’s revenge. Mikael Granlund makes a spin-move behind the net to buy some time for Arvidsson to get into position for a one-timer right outside the crease. 1-0 Predators. Arvy’s celebration may be the best part of the clip.
Tell ‘em, Viktor.
The Bortuzzo-Tinordi fight happened right after the goal. There was a long delay while the officials debated whether Tinordi’s jersey was tied down (if not, that would have been a game misconduct.) The refs eventually ruled it was. That long break, however, seemed to settle down the Blues, who responded with their three best chances of the period all in a row.
That momentum change was short-lived. The Predators broke out on an oddly-developed 4-on-2, which appeared to be caused by several Blues players simply losing track of who they were supposed to be defending. And on the break, Matt Duchene wrists a shot past Allen short-side to put Nashville up 2-0.
Each team gets a power-play chance late in the period, but neither convert. The Preds end the first with a 2-0 lead, and one of the best periods of hockey they’ve played over the past month.
END 2nd: #Preds 2, Blues 0— Bryan Bastin (@projpatsummitt) February 15, 2020
Just domination is all aspects of the game. Going to condense this post down for the first intermission, but they just have to continue to play smart and not get dumb penalties@OnTheForecheck pic.twitter.com/PjCcm6cDsI
(Bryan knows that should say “END 1st,” but it’s okay because we still love him.)
Blues fans weren’t exactly happy with their team’s start. St. Louis gets a power play, but winds up icing the puck twice and fail to get a shot on Saros. The fans start to boo, WHICH I’M SURE ALL OF US HATE TO SEE.
It’s not until the power play ends that St. Louis finally gets on the board. Robert Thomas, Sammy Blais, and Zach Sanford play a nice game of give-and-go that leads to a rush, and in the end, it’s Blais finding Sanford with a perfect cross-ice pass to put St. Louis on the board 2-1. It’s hard to be mad about that one if you’re a Preds fan. That’s simply great puck movement.
But luckily, Kyle Turris has no time for your goal celebration shenanigans. He frees the puck from the boards, turns, and wrists a shot past Allen to put the Preds back up by two almost immediately. 3-1 Predators.
This is when things started to fall apart for the Preds.
It starts when Ryan Johansen lays out for a puck, but winds up tripping David Perron. That leads to a Blues power play, and unlike the first few opportunities, the Blues DO turn up the heat on Saros. The Preds goalie actually drops the puck after a glove save, which keeps the play alive, and eventually, leads to Jaden Schwartz tipping in a Schenn shot to make it 3-2. Sure, it’s great all-around play, but the Preds had multiple chances to clear the puck during the entire sequence, including a few not in the highlight video.
Four minutes later, it’s a similar story that winds up burning the Preds. Mattias Ekholm and Tyler Bozak get tied up in the corner. Ekholm looks like he wins the puck, but either whiffs on a pass or straight-up loses the puck, which slides in front of the net. The Preds don’t notice, and Jordan Kyrou slams it home to make it 3-3.
Seriously... is there an exorcist who can cleanse whatever demonic entity is plaguing the Predators during the second period of hockey games? If you’re out there, and you happen to be an avid reader of On The Forecheck, please respond in the comments or tweet us your exorcism resume reels.
Also, some thoughts on what Assistant Coach Dan Lambert had to say at the second intermission.
“It’s tied going into the third. Just what we wanted.”
You had a two-goal lead...
And let the Blues dominate the last ten minutes of the period...
And are now tied...
AFTER giving up those two separate two-goal leads...
That’s “just what you wanted,” eh?
Anyway, the Blues continue their momentum into the third period and almost convert on a mad scramble in front of Saros. Roman Josi comes in at the last minute to prevent the goal.
Finally, FINALLY Nashville takes back the momentum. Ekholm draws a holding penalty on Gunnarsson, and LORD BE PRAISED, we get a power play goal! Granlund puts in a rebound from a Josi slapshot to make it 4-3 Predators. It’s Granlund’s eighth goal since the start of the New Year, most by any Pred in that stretch.
The next five minutes or so are absolute chaos, and to be honest, I’m not sure what to make of it. Bortuzzo and Arvidsson get into it again at the Preds bench, which, of course, draws a crowd. Jarnkrok and Blais wind up getting the only penalties out of that entire sequence, which... sure.
A minute later, we get a weird sequence where Forsberg and Allen collide. Forsberg actually lays on top of Allen for a good five seconds before both get back on their feet. I’m not sure how there wasn’t a whistle there.
The Blues get several more chances with the empty net, but couldn’t convert, and the Preds get the 4-3 win.
OTF’s Super-Duper Stars of the Game
3. Mikael Granlund: eight goals in 16 games with John Hynes at the helm. *turns slowly to look at David Poile*
2. Kyle Turris: A goal and an assist tonight. Another guy whose play has skyrocketed since Hynes took over. *once again turns slowly to look at David Poile*
- Viktor Arvidsson: The hockey equivalent of that “getting knocked down but always getting back up or whatever” montage from Captain Marvel
Other Random Takeaways
- Of course, we have to give our best here at OTF to Jay Bouwmeester and his family. This was the Blues’ first home game since that incident, and we saw a number of tributes and well-wishes throughout the afternoon:
Get well, JayBo!
- I like the Blues’ throwback jerseys please don’t hurt me.
- It’s been pointed out on Twitter, but Matt Duchene is strangely gifted at drawing penalties. I’m not sure if it’s just the way he plays or if... *whispers* he tends to emphasize some of those hooks and holds... but it’s noticeable.
- “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is still a banger.
Same teams. New Day. New city.
The Blues and Predators tomorrow at Bridgestone Arena. Puck drop’s at 5:00 PM CST.