The Nashville Predators traveled to ScottTrade Center to face off with the St. Louis Blues for the second time in 5 days. The first meeting between these two teams resulted in a 4-3 Blues shoot out win in Nashville, and the Predators were looking to keep pace with their Central Division rival.
Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators and Jaroslav Halak, who was pulled in the first game between these teams, was in net for the Blues.
The game opened like a mirror image of the game in Nashville with the Blues holding a dominant territorial advantage, out shooting the Predators 4-1 early in the contest. The Blues would tally first on their second power play of the period as Mike Fisher was in the box. A shot to the net was not handled cleanly by Rinne, who let the puck hit the blue ice in front of him. T.J. Oshie crashed the net and was able to shovel the puck past Rinne for a 1-0 lead at 12:59.
The Predators had a difficult time getting through the neutral zone and establishing offensive zone presence in the first period. Rinne made a great save on T.J. Oshie late in the period to keep the Blues lead at 1. If the Predators were going to make a game of it, they were going to have to be stronger on the puck and establish their offense, which was virtually non-existent in the first period.
At the end of the first period, the Blues held a 9-3 shot advantage.
The second period opened with the Blues continuing to dominate in puck possession and the Predators unable to establish offensive presence. If the Predators were going to make a game of it, their offense was going to have to control the puck and generate some chances.
That was not happening for the Predators. The Blues controlled the puck, choked off the Predators entry into the zone, and did not let the offense get established. The Predators did not record their first shot on the Blues goal until 12:21 had elapsed in the period.
The Predators defense was caught asleep as Patrick Bergland broke in alone on Rinne and was hooked by Mike Fisher. Bergland was awarded a penalty shot and he beat Rinne stick side to give the Blues a 2-0 lead. As bad as the Predators offense was tonight, that lead looked to be insurmountable for the Predators.
The remainder of the period was scoreless, but the Predators never seriously challenged the Blues net and the offense was throttled by the Blues defense. In the second period, the Predators were out shot 11-4. If the Predators were going to get back in this game, they were going to have to commit to getting the puck in the zone and getting shots on net, something they had not done during the first 40 minutes.
The final 20 minutes were going to be a test of the heart and will of the Predators.
The Predators opened the third period with 1:30 of power play time, but had difficulty even entering the zone. The power play expired with no serious scoring threats. Another power play shortly thereafter yielded a few shots but again no serious scoring threats.
Vladamir Tarasenko made it 3-0 at 9:04 as he was left all alone on the left side of the ice after jumping off the bench on a change. Alex Steen found Tarasenko gliding toward the net and slipped a pass to the wide open winger and he roofed a shot over Rinne to give the Blues a lead that the Predators were not going to threaten the way they were playing.
The only question remaining in this game was how badly the Predators would be embarrassed by their lack of effort tonight.
The Predators effort tonight was embarrassing. They were out shot 24-13 and rarely threatened Halak in the offensive zone. The forwards were dominated by the Blues defense. The power play was impotent.
An all around stinker of a game by the Predators.
This team is a team that has to bring the effort every night to compensate for their lack of talent. Tonight, the effort was woefully lacking.
The Predators get a chance to wash this bad taste out of their mouth Saturday night in Anaheim.
It can't come quickly enough.
My three stars:
1. T.J. Oshie
2. Vladamir Tarasenko
3. Jaroslav Halak