Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blues Finally Beat the Predators in a Shootout

The St. Louis Blues finally defeated the Nashville Predators in a shootout by the score of 3-2 at the Bridgestone Arena. The Predators picked up a point, and remain 4 points behind the fourth place Blues.

After the first period, it appeared as if the Predators were going to be run out of the building. Their play was awful, and if not for the outstanding play of Pekka Rinne in net, the Blues could have scored several more goals.

The Predators inexplicably and frustratingly came out flat, and the Blues took the game to them in the first 20 minutes. Chris Stewart scored at 4:13 of the first as he found the puck in a scrum in front of the net and kicked the puck past Rinne. The play went to review, but the review went for the Blues and they had a 1-0 lead.

The Blues out shot the Predators 13-6, but totally dominated the Predators. Jaroslav Halak had an easy time of it in net as the Predators never threatened him in the first. The Predators never got a second scoring opportunity off a shot and their puck support was atrocious in the first as it was all night.

The second and third period saw the Predators awake and begin to play hockey. They out shot the Blues over the final 40 minutes by a 21-8 margin and their effort was rewarded with 2 goals in the second period.

Roman Josi ripped a shot from the slot over the shoulder of Halak to tie the game at 1 at 2:53 of the second period. Josi broke in 2 on 1 with Brandon Yip, and took a nice feed from Yip right on his tape. He wired the shot for his third goal of the season.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead at 12:52 of the second as Colin Wilson out worked two Blues defenders from the corner. Wilson worked his way out front and his quick backhand shot beat Halak between his pad and the post. This was Wilson's 13th goal of the year, and his play has been very solid of late. Good to see him getting his game going.

The Blues tied the game at 2 at 13:26 of the second as Vladimir Sobotka got loose in the low slot and roofed a backhand over Rinne.

The third period was scoreless, but the Predators had some very good scoring chances. Halak was solid, making some good saves to hold the Predators off the board. Rinne did the same on his end of the ice, and we were heading to overtime.

The OT was scoreless, and the Blues had the only three shots in the extra frame.

In the shootout, T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald scored for the Blues, While Colin Wilson and Marty Erat were blanked by Halak.

The Predators record against the Blues is now 4-0-1 for the season. One game remains on the schedule between the two teams at Scott Trade Center.

The Predators got a taste of playoff hockey against a very good team. It is disappointing that the Predators came out flat and found themselves in a hole after the first period. It is heartening to see that they battled back like they did over the final 40 minutes.

The Predators had better prepare for this type of hockey in the remainder of the regular season. Teams are desperate; teams are fighting for playoff positioning; and teams will kick their ass if they come out flat and lackadaisical like they did tonight.

This is a painful lesson this team needed to learn. You just can't show up, boys, and expect to win hockey games. These remaining games will be a war. The playoffs will be a war.

The Blues are a good team and they gave you a taste of it tonight.

My three stars:

1. Colin Wilson

2. Jaroslav Halak

3. Pekka Rinne

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