Blues fall to Nashville in shootout

By TERESA M. WALKER

AP Sports Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — 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 19th.


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 said.


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.

Updated April 10, 2010