Nashville Predators 3, St. Louis Blues 5: Shorthanded Preds fall short

Without Ekholm and Fabbro, the Preds struggled.

The Nashville Predators tried to get back to winning tonight on the road, but the St. Louis Blues overpowered them and took both points.

First Period

Nashville started the contest off with a quick attack against backup Blues goaltender Ville Husso, who was able to make the save. The Blues got a couple of chances, including a near-breakaway by Colton Parayko that was saved by Juuse Saros after a blown defensive assignment.  On the following series, Nashville got several chances at Husso, after a point shot by Carrier turned into a short-range shot by Roman Josi and a rebound attempt by Colton Sissons.

The game turned into a back-and-forth affair, with both teams pushing to keep up the pressure, but Nashville would eventually find pay dirt. It started with Matt Duchene on the forecheck, who made a great cross-slot pass to Ryan Johansen, who lifted the puck past Husso and made the score 1-0.

Following the score, the Blues struggled to get a rhythm going, with St. Louis not being able to make it through the neutral zone.  Nashville was extremely aggressive on the forecheck and eventually drew a tripping penalty by Brayden Schenn on Roman Josi. The Predators headed to the power play.

Power Play

Nashville struggled early to get set up, but Roman Josi drew yet another penalty by Robert Bortuzzo just 29 seconds after the power play started, and Nashville would go to 5 on 3 with 1:31 remaining. The first offensive possession got cleared by St. Louis, but the first unit got a couple of good looks before that too was cleared.  Forsberg put a shot in Husso’s chest but the goaltender gave up a rebound and several other shots on net before stopping play with just seconds left on the 5-on-3 advantage.  St. Louis won the ensuing faceoff, and Nashville got 29 seconds at 5-on-4.  Despite keeping pressure on the Blues on the penalty kill, Nashville couldn’t solve Husso, and play moved back to even strength.

Play would go back and forth after going back to 5 on 5, with Nashville keeping St. Louis at just a couple shots before Robert Bortuzzo and Ben Harpur threw off the gloves.  Unfortunately for Bortuzzo, Harpur landed three clean hits to the head before hitting the ice, with both headed for the penalty box (but Bortuzzo with a little more shame).

Nashville’s aggressive forechecking kept St. Louis from getting any looks on offense; however, the Predators still struggled to keep possession themselves.  The Blues continued to miss the net on shot attempts, so while it felt as if St. Louis had possession for several minutes, Nashville’s stifling defense kept the Blues without a SOG.

Finally Tarasenko—returning after missing games—got a good look at Saros, but Saros would make the save in the 5 hole and bring play to a stop.  After the faceoff, St. Louis finally found the net, getting several chances on Juuse Saros, but the Nashville goaltender kept them out of the net, and yet another returning player, Filip Forsberg, powered through the St. Louis defense for his 19th goal of the season, making it a 2-0 game with just over four minutes remaining in the period.

There wouldn’t be much time to celebrate, as Ivan Barbashev scored just 19 seconds later to make the score 2-1 with 3:51 remaining. Just a minute later, Mark Borowiecki got called for hooking, and Nashville headed to the penalty kill, with St. Louis riding the momentum of their goal just a minute earlier.

Penalty Kill

St. Louis started the power play with a clean entry, but Nashville’s defense kept the puck to the outside.  A point shot from Torey Krug got saved easily by Saros, and play stopped with 1:19 remaining.  Unfortunately, Saros gave up a rebound after a quick save, and Ryan O’Reilly scored to make the game 2-2 with less than two minutes remaining in the period.

Nashville attempted to keep possession and close out the period, but good neutral zone defense led to a St. Louis shift in the defensive zone.  After a puck recovery, both teams would go back and forth with some big hits, and Nashville once again tried to maintain possession to the last whistle.  Unfortunately, the Predators iced the puck with 15 seconds remaining, so the faceoff moved to the defensive zone.  Luckily Colton Sissons won that faceoff, and the first period came to a close, tied 2-2.

Game Charts

Period Two

The second period started quickly again, but after both teams got a chance right off the bat, Brayden Schenn scored on an odd-man rush, making the score 3-2 less than a minute into the period.

After giving up two odd-man rushes to start the period, Nashville continued to make defensive lapses, and gave up yet another two-on-one, thankfully stopped by Juuse Saros. Fortunately, Nashville slowed the game down somewhat, but reached the five-minute mark in the second period without a shot on goal. At the 14:41 mark, Barbashev scored his second of the game after moving quickly up the left wing and beating Juuse Saros, putting St. Louis up 4-2.

The crowd was behind the home team, and Benning was called for a penalty for tripping. Nashville had to pull off an incredibly tough penalty kill with the game quickly getting out of control.

Penalty Kill

Nashville kept St Louis to the outside for the first thirty seconds of the kill, getting a stoppage in play to catch their breaths. The PK unit keep St. Louis outside the zone enough to get a change to the second unit, which resulted in a two-on-one shorthanded opportunity that was blocked by Husso. The Blues got another chance, but the Predators killed the penalty and get back to even strength.

St. Louis kept up the pressure, but Saros made a couple of easy saves to stem the bleeding somewhat.  A long wrist shot from Kunin got saved by Husso, but Nashville finally seemed to find an offensive presence as they headed into the media timeout.

Nashville got a break on a holding call and headed to the PP with 7:45 remaining in the second.

Power Play

Nashville would immediately get several chances on Husso, with at least three shots bouncing everywhere but in the net.  Nashville gave up a shot on goal the other way, but regrouped halfway through the penalty.  The second unit came on after an offsides call, and quickly gave up possession and had to regroup with just 14 seconds remaining.  Nashville wouldn’t get another chance on the man advantage and the game moved back to 5 on 5.

Nashville got several chances at even strength, but was turned away by Husso and the Blues’ defense. The Duchene line continued to apply pressure, started by a high-danger chance from Matt Duchene himself. Both teams picked up the pace, and shots went on net for both goaltenders in the final minutes of the period. The Predators committed some mistakes in transition and gave the Blues a few more opportunities, but were luckily able to escape the period with just a two goal deficit.

Game Charts

Period Three

The Predators started the period with a strong push to try to even the score again, but the Blues’ first chance of the period—Barbashev, again—was a fantastic one. Forsberg and Carrier helped limit Barbashev’s options, and Saros managed to make the save. Then it was Granlund’s turn to help out, retrieving a rebound Saros gave up before any of the Blues could get to it.

With 11:16 to go in the third period, Schenn took a penalty deep in the Blues’ offensive zone, and the Preds got to go back on the power play.

Power Play

Once again, the Predators struggled to get past the Blues’ defense and get set up in the offensive zone. The Blues’ penalty killers collapsed close to the goal, letting the Preds pass it around the outside and get set up. Filip Forsberg hit a post hard enough to rattle the goal cage, but it stayed out. Eeli Tolvanen and Philip Tomasino also almost combined for a goal, but no joy. Despite the Preds’ efforts the power play eventually elapsed without them closing the gap at all.

Back at even strength, the Blues got a great chance of their own as Schenn came out of the penalty box. Still, the next goal was scored by the fourth line, as Phil Myers and Tanner Jeannot both put shots on Husso before Yakov Trenin, on the third try of the flurry, got the puck past the Blues’ goalie to make it 4-3.

The Blues responded aggressively, but Saros stayed sharp, turning away a point-blank shot to keep the Preds’ deficit to one. With five minutes left in the period, the Preds’ youth retaliated with some chances of their own, which Husso also turned away, with some help from a big shot block by Robert Bortuzzo.

With 2:35 remaining, with the Preds still trying to press the attack, Schenn took the puck and scored his second of the night. The Preds pulled Saros for the extra attacker, but struggled to maintain possession in the offensive zone, and the Blues were able to preserve their lead, though the Preds were able to defend the empty net.