-Photo by Ryan Leopando / Arch City Sports
The St Louis Blues would play host to the Nashville Predators at Scottrade Center for the second time this week. The Predators entered tonight’s match up in first place in the Central Division, leading the Blues by a single point. Nashville would have veteran goalie Pekka Rinne in net and the Blues were welcoming back their heart and soul, TJ Oshie, who has missed the last two weeks battling a concussion. The Predators won last Saturday’s matchup 2-1.
With 1:56 passed in the opening period, the Blues received their first power play of the night thanks to an Olli Jokinen tripping minor against Barret Jackman. At the 3:25 mark, TJ Oshie would make his return to the ice in grand fashion, as he ripped a wrister from the point and beat Pekka Rinne high to the glove side to give St Louis an early lead. Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera were credited with assists.
The Blues’ Steve Ott committed an interference penalty shortly after his squad jumped out in front. St Louis’ defense looked good in the early minutes, killing the penalty with ease. Nashville did not record a single shot with the one man advantage, and didn’t put a shot on net till over six minutes into the contest. Joakim Lindstrom would be called for interference against Taylor Beck following the Ott penalty. For the second time in as many chances, St Louis’ penalty kill unit did their job.
With 7:17 remaining in the first, Carl Gunnarsson blasted a slap shot from the point that clanked off the post. Both teams kept playing as if the shot didn’t go in. Shortly after, the horn sounded and play stopped. A replay confirmed that Carl Gunnarsson’s shot did go in, giving the Blues a 2-0 lead. Maxim LaPierre and Steve Ott picked up assists on the goal.
Nashville answered back quickly as Filip Forsberg ripped a slap shot from the slot that beat Jake Allen low to the stick side. With that goal, Forsberg has now scored in six straight games. Thanks to the replay call that lead to a Gunnarsson goal, the Blues retained the lead.
St Louis took a 2-1 lead into the locker room. The Blues also led in shots, 12-10, and blocked shots, 10-3.
The second period started out well for the Predators. Filip Forsberg drove the puck into the Nashville offensive zone and found Shea Weber. Weber rocketed a slap shot high to the stick side of Jake Allen, beating him and knotting things up at two apiece.
With just over 13 minutes remaining in the second frame, things got heated. Players from each team locked up behind the net and the whistle blew play dead. Vladimir Tarasenko flew in from nowhere and tackled Ryan Ellis. Ellis and Tarasenko were the only two tagged with fighting majors, while Kevin Shattenkirk and Eric Nystrom received two minute roughing minors.
The penalty boxes would get a little cramped. David Backes would be called for a hi-sticking minor, and as play went dead, Steve Ott and James Neal were slapped with unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, giving Nashville their third power play opportunity of the night. Nashville’s power play unit did not have any success in their first three chances, as the Blues penalty kill unit remained perfect. For the second time in three chances, the Blues didn’t allow a single shot to reach Jake Allen while being down a man.
Ryan Reeves and Eric Nystrom started jawing at each other during a face-off with seven minutes to go in the second period. Nystrom wisely did not drop the gloves and Reeves was called for a 10-minute misconduct penalty and would spend the rest of the second period in the Blues’ locker room.
Freshly out of the penalty box for serving a fighting major, Vladimir Tarasenko woke up the Blues’ faithful at Scottrade. Jori Lehtera found Tarasenko in the neutral zone. Tarasenko carried the puck up ice along the boards and cut towards center ice, then blasted a wrist shot from the high slot and beat Pekka Rinne to the glove side, giving St Louis a 3-2 lead. Lehtera and Schwartz tallied assists on the play. With a goal, an assist and a fight, Tarasenko recorded his first Gordie Howe hat trick.
TJ Oshie was sent to the penalty box for a delay of game with only 20 seconds remaining in the period. With under one second to go in the middle frame, Roman Josi received a pass from She Weber at the point, gathered himself, and smoked a slap shot by Jake Allen to tie things at three going into the second intermission.
8:42 into the third period, James Neal would be sent to the penalty box for two minutes with a holding call against Alex Steen. Nashville managed to kill off the penalty and keep things tied at three.
With under six minutes to play, Paul Stastny won a face-off in the Blue’s offensive zone. The puck made its way to the point where Kevin Shattenkirk ripped a slap shot. Paul Stastny redirected it through the five-hole, beating Pekka Rinne and giving the Blues the lead late. Shattenkirk and Carl Gunnarsson earned assists on the play.
The Predators pulled their goalie with just over a minute to go in the game, giving Nashville a six-on-five advantage. The one man advantage for Nashville would not lead to a game tying goal as the Blues would go on to win by a score of 4-3 and even the season-series at one apiece.
Paul Stastny was name player of the game with his go-ahead goal late in the third period. Jake Allen stopped 22 of 25 shots by the Predators, and Vladimir Tarasenko is making a push for early-season MVP, tallying two more points, giving him 21 on the season.
The loss for Nashville drops them to 10-4-2. The Blues improve to 11-4-1 and leapfrog the Predators into first place in the Central Division, with 23 points.
St Louis will finish up the five game home stand when they host the Washington Capitals this Saturday at 7 PM CST. Watch the game on FS-MW or listen to it on KMOX 1120.