The Nashville Predators continued their recent improved play in a tough match against the St. Louis Blues that resulted in a 3-1 road victory that improved their record to 8-8-1 and moved them higher in the pack in the crowded Western Conference.
The Preds fell behind quickly when Brad Boyes scored 2:03 into the game to put the Blues ahead 1-0. The Blues held the lead until Patric Hornqvist's tenacity paid off with a shot that he forced by Chris Mason at 13:50 in the second period that tied the game 1-1.
The teams remained even until Jordin Tootoo fired a shot at the Blues net at 16:17 that found it's way past Chris Mason to give the Preds a 2-1 lead. David Legwand put the sprinkles on the cupcake with an empty netter with seven seconds left in the contest.
It was truly a team victory for the Preds who have continued to improve with each game. They played tough team defense and fired shots continually at the net. The Predators out shot the Blues 37-22 with even a wider disparity on the Corsi total, 66-38.
Pekka Rinne was stellar in goal stopping 21 of 22 Blues shots. On the opposite end of the ice Chris Mason played well, stopping 34 of the 36 Pred shots that he faced..
Several Preds played really strong games to contribute to the effort. David Legwand may have played his best game of the year going 13-5 in the face-off circle which included 9-4 in the Pred's defensive zone. Leggy also led the team in blocked shots with three.
Andreas Thuresson, who could have been the game's goat for an early penalty and his losing position on the Blues goal, had 5 shots on goal in 10:11 in ice time.
Jason Arnot led the team in shots with six with four more on the Corsi side.
Patric Hornqvist continued to be the break-out player of the year with his aggressive play around the net. Along with his goal he had 7 Corsi shots and a couple of hits.
The defensive pairing of Kevin Klein and Francis Bouillon continued to perform well mostly facing the top two Blues' lines.
J. P. Dumont played a full game in his return from a back injury. He had four shots and five additional Corsi attempts. Preds fans were holding their breath at the end of the second period when David Backes ran Dumont into the wall, receiving a game misconduct for the hit. Dumont was able to return for regular shifts after the incident.
On the negative side, the Predators power play did not produce any goals. In seven minutes of man advantage, they only produced three shots. During the first period PP, the Preds did appear to be moving the puck better producing more opportunities but the shots did not go through.
The oddest stat of the game was that the St. Louis media awarded losing goalie Chris Mason the first star of the game, with Jordin Tootoo and Patric Hornqvist picking up the other two.
The Predators have to consider the four game road trip to have been a success. They won two of four tough contests on the road and should have parlayed their good play in San Jose into another point.
The Predators flew out after the game and will be ready to settle in to some home cooking as they play their next five at home and 12 of their next 15 over the next 30 days at the Sommet Center.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass