Nashville Predators 4, St. Louis Blues 7: Second-period success not enough for Preds

A late goal and two empty-netters took the tie point—and maybe the win—from the Preds.

The Nashville Predators took on the St. Louis Blues in an early game today. Both teams were jostling for position in the Central and urgently wanted a win, but only one could take it.

The Preds got out to a strong start, getting some early chances and drawing a penalty as Mackenzie MacEachern was called for roughing Nick Cousins. However, the Blues got their first shot on goal of the game shorthanded, and although the Preds’ power play had some looks they were unable to score.

Ryan Johansen took the next penalty moments later, hauling Ryan O’Reilly down to the ice and giving the Blues a chance of their own with the skater advantage. David Perron got a shot through some screens to put the Blues up 1-0.  Less than a minute later, Brandon Saad capitalized on a neutral zone turnover and put a nice clean shot past Juuse Saros to put the Blues up 2-0.

A loud St. Louis contingent in the Tire Barn began to make themselves heard. The Preds didn’t completely cave in, but Roman Josi ended up losing his temper after a nasty check into the boards and cross-checked Ivan Barbashev in retaliation, putting the Preds back on the penalty kill. Saros made some spectacular saves, briefly revitalizing the Preds fans in the crowd, but an unattended Robert Thomas then scored to put the Blues up 3-0.

Things were looking bleak, but with 1:26 left in the first period, some great around-the-net passing by Johansen and Filip Forsberg set Matt Duchene up for a nice goal, getting the Preds on the board.

Early in the second, Barbashev entered the penalty discussion again, this time getting called for a hook on Forsberg, and Johansen was quick to retaliate with a power-play goal of his own. The Preds got another chance when Brayden Schenn decided to take a hooking penalty 200 feet away from his own net, but a promising-looking power play was cut short when Johansen decided to commit interference.

The 4v4 started with end-to-end-to-end rushes, but a fantastic shift by Alexandre Carrier set up Forsberg for the game-tying goal, at 3-3. The teams returned to five a side without further scoring.

A few minutes later the Blues regained their lead when a shot pinballed off of both Ekholm and Johansen before going past Saros and into the net, but Duchene responded on the next shift and scored after some nice back-and-forth passing with Johansen and a fake toward Filip Forsberg.

The end of the second period and the start of the third were suspiciously quiet, but picked up. The Preds pushed hard, but Ville Husso was on the ball and denied them a lead. With 2:38 remaining in the third, Thomas broke the tie, giving the Blues a late 5-4 lead. The Preds pulled Saros, and David Perron missed one empty-net chance but managed a second, with 1:57 still to go.

Justin Faulk added a second empty-net goal a little over 20 seconds later, making the score 7-4. The Blues fans were again audible in the crowd.

The Preds play again tomorrow against the Minnesota Wild.