Blues sweep homestand with 3-1 win over Predators
ST. LOUIS — Blues coach Ken Hitchcock calls his fourth line forwards "the specialists." Lately, they’ve simply been special.
Kyle Brodziak got the tiebreaking goal 7:28 into the third period, lifting St. Louis over the Nashville Predators 3-1 on Saturday night.
Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron also scored and Jake Allen made 30 saves, helping the Blues finish 3-0 on their homestand. St. Louis is 8-1-2 at home this season.
The play of the Blues’ fourth line of Brodziak, Scottie Upshall and Ryan Reaves was the catalyst. The unit was a collective plus-3, had four shots and five hits.
"We’re out here to do a job and if we don’t do it, we’re told about it," Upshall said. "But things have been going good. We’ve turned things around here, a good week at home, and it’s good to chip in."
Fourth lines are generally expected to provide energy and ice time until the playmakers can get back off the bench. Hitchcock’s crew is showing rare skill so far down the roster.
"They make plays," Hitchcock said. "They make smart plays. They make scoring chances. They caused the first power play that we got in the game. They create all kind of zone pressure. They were the one line in the first period that was able to maintain pressure in the offensive zone."
Mike Ribeiro scored and Pekka Rinne made 31 saves for Nashville, which finished a three-game trip 1-2.
The Blues snapped a two-game losing streak vs. Nashville but have dominated the Predators at Scottrade Center, winning five straight. Overall, the Blues have won six of eight against the Predators.
Brodziak snapped a 1-1 tie with his second goal in three games. He put in a rebound off Upshall’s shot after the pair entered on a 2-on-1 following P.K. Subban’s turnover.
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"I think for the most part, all year we felt pretty good about generating chances, being in their zone and we felt that if we kept playing that way the goals were going to come," Brodziak said. "And fortunately the last couple of games we’ve been able to chip in."
Predators coach Peter Laviolette believed a cross-checking penalty should have been called against the Blues, which caused Subban to turn the puck over.
"I thought we were good for two periods," Laviolette said. "They seemed to grab some momentum off of that power play to open the third period, and shortly after that we just couldn’t seem to corral it. They gained some momentum and I think the shots were seven or eight to nothing at one point there. We start the third and we just couldn’t get going."
Tarasenko ripped a wrist shot past Rinne to make it 3-1 with 8:24 left for his team-high seventh goal of the season. The goal came off a rush following a couple of Allen saves amid a Nashville flurry moments earlier.
Perron put the Blues up 1-0 3:09 into the second period with a backhand rebound off Jay Bouwmeester’s shot from the point. Perron has a point in each of the last four games.
"He’s really competitive at the puck," Hitchcock said. "He’s got a big man’s game at the puck that makes him a very effective player in the NHL now."
Ribeiro tied it with a power-play goal 8:59 into the second by pouncing on a puck in the crease that had trickled through Allen after he got a piece of Craig Smith’s shot. The Blues couldn’t convert on two chances to clear the puck leading to the goal.
James Neal had his six-game goal streak snapped for the Predators.
NOTES: The Blues acquired D Reid McNeill from the Penguins in exchange for F Danny Kristo. McNeill will report to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. … Predators D Anthony Bitetto was sent to Milwaukee (AHL) on a conditioning assignment. … Blues D Robert Bortuzzo returned after missing the last 10 games with a lower-body injury.
Predators: Will host Tampa Bay on Monday night.
Blues: Travel to Boston on Tuesday night.