Predators 2, Blues 1, SO
Nashville coach Barry Trotz sounded as though he wanted to send
the St. Louis Blues a thank-you note for giving the Predators a
preview of playoff intensity.
Martin Erat scored the lone goal of the shootout, and the
Predators beat the Blues 2-1 on Saturday night to wrap up the
regular season after a final week with only two games.
“We had a little bit of time off and sort of lost a little bit
of our edge,” Trotz said. “St. Louis forced us to bring our level
up, even though it wasn’t exactly what we wanted. We had to compete
hard to win this hockey game.”
The Predators won three of the final four and reached 100 points
for the third time in franchise history. They have a chance to
finish as high as fifth in the Western Conference but will need
Chicago to beat Detroit, and Colorado to down Los Angeles on Sunday
to avoid falling as far as seventh.
“Our first goal of the season this year was to obviously make
the playoffs, and 100 points I don’t know if that’ll get us fifth
or get us seventh. I have no idea,” Trotz said.
Jason Arnott scored the regulation goal for Nashville, which won
the season series with St. Louis 5-1. Pekka Rinne stopped David
Perron and Andy McDonald, and Brad Boyes missed in his last chance
to continue the shootout.
Steve Sullivan missed the puck on Nashville’s first shot and
tried to tap it in on a second try, but that is not allowed. Erat,
skating second, beat Ty Conklin’s glove for the win.
David Backes scored St. Louis’ lone goal.
This was the seventh time in 13 games the Predators had gone to
overtime and they were 6-1 in those games. They went to the
shootout when David Legwand just missed outside the post on a rush
with just over a minute left in overtime. Conklin blocked Arnott’s
shot with 30 seconds remaining.
Keith Tkachuk sat out one night after he played at home in St.
Louis, marking his final NHL game after 19 seasons. St. Louis also
scratched defenseman Barret Jackman and center T.J. Oshie among
others. The Blues went young, starting started prospects Lars Eller
and Jonas Junland.
“We finished a game that meant something to us,” Blues coach
Davis Payne said. “It didn’t mean anything as far as next week
goes, but it meant something to us as far as the standard we want
to play with going forward.”
That seemingly made it easier for Nashville to finish the
regular season with a win. But the Predators came out sluggish,
while the Blues scrapped for the puck all over the ice.
“I think it can be difficult to get excited about a game like
this, not only on our side but their side, as well,” Conklin said.
“We’re all professionals, and we don’t want to lose any games
whether they matter in the standings or not.”
Rinne sent the game into the first intermission at 0-0 with a
glove save on Alex Steen’s backhander after a breakaway attempt in
the final seconds. That might have helped Nashville get going.
“We were flat in the first, but we picked it up in the second
and third,” Arnott said. “I’ve got to hand it to (St. Louis).
They came to play, and they didn’t quit. They played for their
jersey, and they’re a hardworking team.”
Conklin helped kill all three Nashville power plays.
But Arnott put the Predators up 1-0 with a snap shot from the
slot at 5:26 of the third off an assist from Shea Weber for his
Backes answered with 10:18 gone, snapping his own shot behind
Rinne from between the goal line and the left circle on a nice pass
from Boyes from the right circle for his 17th. Backes was mad at
himself for hitting Boyes’ skate with his pass.
“Next thing I know the defense pinched in on him, and he hit me
right in the wheelhouse. I wasn’t expecting the pass,” Backes
Rinne made a kick save on Paul Kariya who took a pass for a
1-on-2 breakaway with about five minutes left. He stopped Kariya
again a couple minutes later. Rinne then stopped Matt D’Agostini
with 38.8 seconds left in regulation.
NOTES: Nashville had three players appear in all 82 games this
season with Legwand, the franchise leader with 704 games played,
Ryan Suter (203) and Steve Sullivan (122). … Blake Geoffrion
played in the NCAA Frozen Four on Saturday night for Wisconsin, but
the Predators’ second-round draft pick from 2006 drew a huge
ovation from the crowd during the first stoppage with the
announcement of his Hobey Baker award win.