The St. Louis Blues came to Nashville and beat the Predators at their own game. On this night, the Blues was the hardest working team, won the special teams battle, and was the most disciplined team. Their efforts earned them a 3-0 win over Nashville at Bridgestone Arena.
St. Louis opened the scoring 12:56 into the second by scoring a shorthanded goal (technically). The teams were in a 4-4 situation that just expired, leaving the Predators on a brief power play, when David Perron found a wide open Alexander Steen for a quick shot that Pekka Rinne had no chance to save. Francis Bouillon, in his first shift after returning to the ice from an earlier injury, lost Steen allowing him to become wide open about ten feet in front of Rinne. Perron made the tape-to-tape pass from behind the goal for the easy score.
Patrik Berglund added to the St. Louis lead at 12:48 into the third period. He sent a very quick shot past a well-screened Pekka Rinne.
Just seconds later, at 13:11 into the third period, Jordin Tootoo earned a five minute major penalty, and a game misconduct, for charging Carlo Colaiacovo behind the St. Louis net. On the hit, Tootoo leapt into Colaiacovo (leaving his feet) and made principal point of contact with the head (although not called as such). Given the nature of the hit, Colaiacovo’s injury, and Tootoo’s reputation, the call was easy for the officials. It was also the correct call.
For that hit, St. Louis made the Predators pay. Capitalizing on the Predators need to score shorthanded, the Blues turned the Predators overly aggressive penalty kill units against them by creating a 3-1 rush that Matt D’Agostini put behind Rinne for the final score of the game.
For the Predators, they are faced with yet another game in which they were significantly outshout (34-24). They committed 23 minutes of penalties compared to the Blues’ 8 minutes. Their power play has fully reverted back to a predictable and immobile mess since the injury to Ryan Suter. They are also going through a significant scoring drought right now.
Cal O’Reilly and Steve Sullivan had a hard night. Both were over skating the puck often and turning it over in general. The forward that’s struggling the most, however, is Martin Erat. While it’s quite possible that Erat is still suffering from back issues, it’s certainly not out of the ordinary for Erat to go through significant periods of ineffectiveness.
Early in the season, Nashville was outshooting their opponents by working hard and playing aggressively across all four lines. Their aggressive offense allowed them to put more pressure on the opponent than they received. Now, the forward lines are not clicking very well, and the power play is truly suffering again.
On the bright side, there are some things that Predator fans can take away from this game to reassure themselves that this is going to be a real good team this year.
Firstly, Pekka Rinne had another really solid game tonight. I don’t fault him for any of the goals given up tonight and he really gave Nashville a chance heading into the third period.
The penalty kill continues on its path of recovery. While they gave up that late third period power play goal, it was primarily due to their overly aggressive kill necessitated by the situation. The kill units really looked good tonight.
Sergei Kostitsyn continues to look better. He had some bad moments from an effort standpoint, but that was widespread.
Right now, David Legwand’s line really appears to be the best line for Nashville. Legwand and Ward, along with Dumont, were the forwards on the ice for the best Nashville power play (by far) effort of the night.
Nashville doesn’t have much time to dwell on this loss and the effort they expended. They begin a five game road trip in Detroit Saturday night (who is coming off a loss itself to Phoenix).
Will we see some changes to the forward lines and power play units in an effort to throw some offensive energy back on the ice? I’d be very tempted to run lines of Hornqvist-Legwand-Ward, Sullivan-O’Reilly-Kostitsyn, and Erat-Wilson-Dumont. I’d then run a fourth line of Smithson-Spaling-Tootoo. We already know that they will have to do without Ryan Suter and Marcel Goc against Detroit.
We’ll find out how the Predators will react to their first loss come Saturday.
After re-examining the Tootoo’s hit (thanks for the video Dirk), Tootoo’s hit does appear to be clean. He does maintain one foot on the ice at all times. He never makes contact with the head (which I certainly believed him to do). Colaiacovo never even hits the boards (Burnside was incorrect in that report). You really can’t call it charging as Tootoo coasted all the way from the face-off dot into the hit. In essence, it was a very clean hit. As such, I expect no supplemental discipline to come down and also expect to see the game misconduct rescinded.
All that said, I still can’t fault the officials for the call. During the speed of the game, it certainly appeared to be a head shot (the injury helping that belief). It was also a hit by Jordin Tootoo. While I now believe that this hit was entirely clean, that’s certainly not the case with all of Tootoo’s hits. He has a well-earned reputation that came back to bite him last night. When you live on the edge, you also have to live with the consequences that come with it.
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