Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blues Frustrate Predators in 2-1 Shoot Out Win

For the first time this season, the Nashville Predators forced a game to a shootout and came out on the losing end. The 2-1 win by the St. Louis Blues was a particularly heartbreaking loss for a Predator team that dominated play on both ends of the ice for most of the game struggeled to get the puck into the net.

The Predators out shot the Blues 30-15 and played one of their best defensive games of the season. "Defensively, they did a really good job," said Coach Barry Trotz.

Andy McDonald had all the offense for the Blues in the game. He had the only regulation goal as well as the game winner in the fifth round of a scoreless shoot out for the Blues.

Jerred Smithson was the lone scorer for the Predators and was the team's best player for the evening. Trotz had high praise for his work, "A lot of the guys who have been in the third and fourth line roles really drive as forwards. They really brings the high work ethic, the Nichols, the Fiddlers, and Smitty goes in that class too. He is contagious to that line and Toots and Wardo get chances and they're hard to play against."

Both Pekka Rinne and Jaroslav Halak had outstanding games. Halak was much more active as he stopped 29 of 30 shots while Rinne stopped 14.

Rinne seemed particularly disappointed in the loss after the game, "Every game you want to win and it's disappointing when you lose division games. It's tough to get wins in this league and disappointing when you lose."

St. Louis got off to a perfect start in the game when nine seconds after the opening face off David Backes fed a pass to Andy McDonald who skated into the Predators slot and put a shot past Kevin Klein who and goalie Pekka Rinne to give the Blues a quick 1-0 lead.

"It was a bit of an unfortunate goal," Trotz related. "Their guy got it, shot it and it went off Klein's stick and ended up in the net."

Klein then received the first penalty of the game at 6:13 when he was called for interference as he checked Brad Boyes who was away from the puck on a breakout in the Preds defensive zone. The Preds killed the penalty, giving up three shots.

The Blues had their second man advantage at 10:15 when Marty Erat got a high stick on Nikita Nikitin but were unable to get off any shots.

The Predators got their first man advantage at 14:54 when Patrik Berglund tripped Jordin Tootoo and sent him fling into the side boards. The Preds mounted a good effort on the power play, getting off three shots.

Shea Weber commented on the power play, "I think we've been too stagnent. We're getting chances. We need a bounce and to get more pucks there. We need a goal to open things up and get some confidence."

The period ended with the Preds leading in shots 8-5 and tied in the Corsi at 14. After appearing out of sync at the start of the period, Nashville mounted a better attack as the period closed.

The second period started much better for the Preds when at 22 seconds Joel Ward skated the puck down the left side of the ice and fired a shot at Halak that rebounded directly to Smithson in the slot where he drilled it straight into the net for his second goal in two games to tie the game 1-1.

"It was a great play by Wardo, driving wide and just getting the puck on net. We work on that in practice, shooting rebounds. I was just coming down and it came out to my stick and I just popped it in," Smithson explained.

The Blues returned to the power play at 10:20 in the second when Shane O'Brien was called for holding the stick. The Blues managed two shots which including their first shot in 22:32 of play as the Pred's defense was effective in taking away the space in front of the net.

Shots for the second period were 10-4 in favor of the Preds who also led the Corsi 17-13.

The Predators appeared to get a break at 3:20 in the third when Smithson pushed Vladimir Sobotka into Rinne for a goaltender interference call. The Preds managed a shot but no real pressure.

Anotther power play opportunity came at 8:34 when Barret Jackman slashed Sergei Kostitsyn as he skated toward the crease with the puck. Again, the Preds came up empty with no shots.

The save of the game came at 11:50 when a shot from Matt D'Agostini slipped through Rinne's five hole and he had the presence to lay back on it to keep the onrushing Blues away from a second chance. Rinne explained the stop, "It's just one of those things you kind of know that it's behind you and you try to find it."

In the third period the Predators continued their shot dominance by with a 12-4 margin.

The overtime period was fast paced with only two stoppages. The Blues were credited with the only two shots in the extra session.

The only goal scored on ten attempts in the shootout was by McDonald. Sergei Kostitsyn was the Predators' final shoot but hit the post in his chance to send the shoot out into the sixth round.

Trotz was reflective on the loss, "There's going to be games where you deserve to win and then there's going to be games you sort of steal. This one I thought we deserved to win and they're leaving here with the extra point. As I say, the hockey gods even those out."

The game was played in front of a Bridgestone Arena crowd of 16,603 and was televised nationwide on the Versus Network.

After the Predators eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day, they will head to Minnesota where they will face the Wild on Friday in a matinee game that starts at 1:00 p.m. Central. The Preds then return home for a date with the New York Rangers on Saturday at 7 p.m.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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