Thursday, October 14, 2010

Predators Survive the Blues 4-3

In their first back to back game of the season, the Nashville Predators came out flying in the first period, building a 3-1 lead against the St. Louis Blues, then held on for a 4-3 victory at the Bridgestone Arena. With this win, the Predators have won five consecutive contests against the Blues.

Marcel Goc opened the scoring for the Predators just 56 seconds into the contest. Goc was cruising into the low slot alone when he took a nice feed from Colin Wilson and beat Jaroslav Halak low to the stick side for his second goal of the season.

The Predators kept up the attack in the first period, and Steve Sullivan potted the first of two goals on the night at 11:16 of the first on a 5 on 3 power play. With Brad Boyes in the box for holding along with Eric Brewer for delay of game, Ryan Suter found Sullivan with a nice cross ice pass. Sullivan roofed a puck over an out of position Halak to give the Predators a 2-0 lead.

St. Louis cut the lead to 2-1 at 13:37 of the priod when Matt D'Agostini tallied to get the Blues on the board.

Just 15 seconds later, Sullivan notched his second goal with a one timer off a feed from Cal O'Reilly. Momentum back to the Predators with a 3-1 lead.

Sullivan nearly completed the hat trick with a breakaway, but was stopped by Halak with a nice pad save with just 2 seconds remaining in the period.

Going in to the first intermission, the Predators had to feel good about their play after taking it to the Blues.

Maybe they felt too good.

It took the Predators nearly 8 minutes into the second to register their first shot on goal. St. Louis tilted the ice to the Predators end of the rink and pressed the attack. The Predators had trouble even clearing the puck and gaining the offensive zone.

Rookie goaltender Anders Lindback was called upon to make some big stops to keep the Blues at bay. The Blues finally solved Lindback in the second as T. J. Oshie scored unassisted on the power play to cut the lead to 3-2. Oshie was left alone just inside the face off circle and he beat Lindback to the stick side.

The Predators finally got their legs moving and began to exert some pressure in the offensive zone. With the Predators on the power play, Cal O'Reilly fired a shot that was stopped by Halak. Patric Hornqvist was in his "office", parked at the top of the crease, and gathered in the rebound and slid it under the pads of Halak to give the Predators the two goal lead once again, 4-2.

The Blues cut the lead to one once more as Patrik Berglund tallied on the power play with Jordin Tootoo off on a weak roughing call.

The Blues pressed the attack, and when Joel Ward called for tripping at 18:57, the Blues had a golden opportunity to tie the game. The Predators PK came up big in the last 1:03 to seal the win and hand the
Blues their first loss of the season.

This was a good test for the Predators early in the season. Playing their first back to back contests, the Predators were without starting netminder Pekka Rinne and forwards Marty Erat and Matthew Lombardi. Erat continues to suffer from back spasms and will miss Saturday's contest with the Capitals. Lombardi was injured in the game with Chicago when he was run into the boards by the penalty box and sustained an upper body injury.

With the injuries to Erat and Lombardi, Sergei Kostitsyn saw his first action of the season, logging 13:17 of ice time and one shot on goal.

Positively, the Predators power play has shown marked improvement. This is critical for the team this season.

Younger players have stepped into critical roles and have performed well. This team shows great chemistry and hustle. The young guys are going to have to continue to step it up for this season to be successful.

Anders Lindback has shown that he is a dependable goalie, and the team can win with him in net.

There are some negatives. As we saw in the Chicago game, the Predators have an annoying habit of coming out flat in the second period. The Blues had the ice tilted for the first ten minutes of the second period. No doubt the Blues are a good team, and will be a force in the Central Division this season. It is imperative that Predators avoid the second period let down that has plagued this team over the past few seasons.

This game had the feel of the Predators just trying to survive. They did survive and pulled off a win. This however, is not a formula for long term success.

After outshooting the Blues 11-2 in the first period, the Predators were outshot 11-9 in the second and 12-2 in the third.

Surviving indeed.

Hopefully, the team learned from this game. There will be more like them- tough wars that demand your best.

The Predators will have to bring their best in order to survive

My three stars of the night:

1. Steve Sullivan

2. Cal O'Reilly

3. Patric Hornqvist

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