Saturday, February 1, 2014

Predators Fall to the Blues In a Shootout

The Nashville Predators looked to continue the positive momentum of last night's come from behind win over the New Jersey Devils as they visited the St. Louis Blues.

They faced a monumental challenge as the Blues have torn through the Central Division, posting a 13-0-1 record to date.

Carter Hutton would man the pipes for the second night in a row, and he was challenged throughout the game by the Blues. Hutton made some huge saves to keep the Predators from getting blown out of the Scott Trade Center.

Hutton final gave up a goal, but it was one on which he had not chance. With the Predators on the penalty kill, Jaden Schwartz got lost by the defense and found himself alone at the side of the net. He banged the puck past Hutton for a 1-0 Blues lead at 9:11 of the first period.

The Blues made it 2-0 at 3:31 of the second period as David Backes tallied his 19th goal of the season.

The Predators answered at 16:48 of the second as Paul Gaustad gathered in a errant pass from a Blues defender in the low slot and blasted the puck past Brian Elliott to make it 2-1. This was Gaustad's 8th goal of the season.

Mike Fisher tied the game at 2 as he threw a shot at Elliott from almost at the goal line. The puck banked off Elliott and into the net at 3:25 of the third period.

The Predators got their first lead of the night as David Legwand found Roman Josi streaking in from the blue line. Josi beat Elliott with a low wrist shot to give the Predators a 3-2 lead at 7:33.

The Predatos showed their disturbing tendency to quickly give up a goal after they score. Just 16 seconds after the Predators had taken the lead, Vladamir Tarasenko blasted a shot over the glove of Hutton to tie the game.

Both teams had good chances in the remainder of the third period, but could not get the game winning goal, so they were heading to overtime.

This was the first overtime meeting between these teams this season.

The overtime was scoreless, and so the Predators and Blues were heading to a shootout.

Which has not been kind to the Predators.

And the Predators continue to struggle in the shootout, dropping this one 2-1.

Some observations:

  • Hutton played a strong game and came up with some huge saves to keep the Predators in the game. The Blues attacked all night, and Hutton made some quality saves. He moved well and was positionally sound.

  • The Predators really got their game going in the second period, and I especially liked their effort in the third period. They went hard to the net and forced Elliott to make some big saves. The Predators looked purposeful in going to the net and really pressured the Blues goal with some quality chances. They have shown a  willingness to put the puck on the net and go hard after rebounds, and this is the style of hockey that they have to play.

  • The Predators were still without the services of Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg. Youngsters Colton Sissons (8:00), Taylor Beck (13:58), and recent call up Simon Moser (10:21) all contributed some important minutes.

  • The Predators had 4 shooters in the shootout, and they went with three defensemen in those four slots. Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm all had attempts, with only Ellis converting. Taylor Beck was the only forward to take an attempt.
The Predators battled hard and picked up a point, but it is disappointing to see them give up another goal so soon after taking the lead. Whether it is maturity, intensity, or desire, it is lacking when they allow the opponents to score like that.

The Predators have been playing better of late and have been picking up some points.

They are going to have to continue that to get back into the playoff race.

My three stars:

1. Vladamir Tarasenko

2. Roman Josi

3. Jaden Schwartz

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