Blues Battle Back in Nashville but Fall Short in Shootout

Bridgestone Arena- Nashville, TN

Vince Dunn shoots through traffic in front of Nashville netminder, Juuse Saros, in Monday night action. (John Russell/Getty Images)

St. Louis, 14-5-5, 1st place in Central Division @ Nashville, 10-9-3, 5th place in Central Division

These two teams just hooked up on Saturday, and there’s some bad blood in the building. Robert Bortuzzo cross-checked Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson twice in front of the Blues’ net and has since been handed down a four-game suspension. The Predators won that game Saturday 4-2, but will reportedly be without Arvidsson for 4-6 weeks due to a lower-body injury.

With his work visa finally cleared, The Blues welcomed back Troy Brouwer tonight. The veteran free agent made the team after a lengthy tryout and is joined by two recalls from the San Antonio Rampage, defenseman Derrick Pouliot and forward Nathan Walker. Brouwer made it into the lineup, but Pouliot and Walker would have to wait their turn. Both Pouliot and Walker were doing very well in San Antonio, with Pouliot amassing 18 points in 20 games, and Nathan Walker scoring 12 goals to go along with ten assists.

1st Period

Coach Craig Berube was hoping the Blues would get off to a better start than what he saw from them Saturday, and the Blues certainly had some early opportunities. Ivan Barbashev sent a hard shot at Nashville goalie Juuse Saros within the first minute of the game, and Justin Faulk made a bid to score his first goal of the year only to be robbed on a glove save a minute later.

Shortly after those good chances, the Blues went on the power play for a Nashville delay of game when recent call-up Daniel Carr sent the puck over the glass in his zone. Due to some good pressure out high, the Blues weren’t able to set up in the Nashville zone. With 20 seconds left in the initial penalty, Filip Forsberg went off for high sticking, and the Blues had a short five on 3. Vince Dunn, Jaden Schwartz, and David Perron all had good chances, but they weren’t able to get anything by Saros. Perron’s shot from inside the right circle went off Saros’ shoulder and then the crossbar.

Both the five on 3 and 5 on 4 expired without the Blues able to get on the board, and shortly after the Preds killed the penalties, they took a 1-0 lead. After Nashville won a defensive zone face-off, Dante Fabbro flipped the puck high out of his zone. Rocco Grimaldi corralled the puck around the blue line on the left boards and sent a pass across to the breaking Nick Bonino. Bonino beat Jake Allen high blocker side at 7:59 of the 1st.

Three and a half minutes later, Ryan Johansen made it 2-0 Nashville. The Predators won the faceoff in the Blues’ zone, and Forsberg sent a pass to Calle Jarnkrok in front of the net. Allen was able to make the initial stop, but Ryan Johansen came flying in to clean up the rebound.

Shots were even at the end of the 1st 10-10. The Predators would open the 2nd period with 1:45 left on their first power-play due to a Zach Sanford hooking call.

2nd period

The St. Louis penalty kill was tested to start the 2nd, but Jake Allen made a great save on Forsberg with 20 seconds left in the man advantage. Nashville was able to control the puck in the offensive zone, but the Blues did an excellent job of taking away lanes and blocking shots.

Tyler Bozak kept it a 2-0 game when he came to Allen’s aid a couple minutes after the Nashville power play ended. The Preds continued to buzz and cause traffic in front of the net, but Grimaldi’s backhand attempt was stopped when the puck bounced off of Bozak’s left leg.

The Blues were having trouble establishing the forecheck and gaining offensive zone time. The Predators did an excellent job all game of forcing the Blues to dump the puck in, and when they did, they never had much time or space to set up.

But on the Blues’ first goal, they didn’t need time to set up. After one of many impressive saves by Jake Allen on the night, the rebound popped out to Ryan O’Reilly, who found Perron streaking up the right-wing. Saros stopped Perron’s slapshot, but the rebound came right back to him, and the Blues finally had their first goal when Perron sent the puck over Saros’ left pad to make it 2-1.

Gettin’ Chippy

The physicality and chippiness ramped up in the 2nd period, which didn’t come as much of a surprise after Saturday’s contest. Mackenzie MacEachern and Nashville defenseman Matt Irwin got into a scrap and went off for 5-minute fighting majors about halfway through the period. MacEachern never could get his hands free and fell to the ice, but Irwin wasn’t able to do much damage.

A few minutes later, Brayden Schenn crushed Irwin against the boards with a heavy check. When a tussle broke out in front of the Blues’ net moments later, Austin Watson went to the box for roughing, giving the Blues another power play. Unlike their earlier power plays, the Blues were able to spend some time in the Nashville zone, but their best chance was lost when Schwartz partially fanned on a backhand chance out front.

The 2nd would end with Nashville clinging to a 2-1 lead, having outshot St. Louis 12-5 in the period.

3rd period

The chances of a Blues comeback took a hit when Schenn went off for hooking just 30 seconds into the 3rd. Nashville cycled the puck around the St. Louis zone for the majority of the power play and would’ve taken a 3-1 lead if not for the great play of Jake Allen. Allen made 3 or 4 excellent saves on the Preds power play to keep the puck out of the net and the Blues in the game.

Allen’s stellar play between the pipes kept Nashville from pulling away until the Blues could get the tying goal past  Saros at 13:09. On the play, both Robert Thomas and Colton Parayko made outstanding plays to keep the puck in the zone. Parayko found Thomas near the right circle, and Thomas sent a slick feed to Schenn out in front. Schenn beat Saros through the 5-hole to make it 2-2.

From there, the Blues controlled play for the last 7 minutes, and Tyler Bozak nearly won the game with a minute 45 left. Bozak found the puck out front and sent a quick shot to the right of the net, but Saros made a great, lunging save in which he practically threw his stick at the puck. Despite the Blues’ pressure, they couldn’t get that 3rd goal past Saros, and it was on to yet another overtime.

Overtime

After the Blues controlled the puck for the first 30-45 seconds, it was all Nashville. Once St. Louis lost early possession, they never got the puck back, and Allen had to weather yet another storm. The Predators continued to press, throwing 4 or 5 high chances Allen’s way, including a hard backhand by Roman Josi that banged off the post. Despite the Predators’ dominance, the Blues hung on for dear life and somehow managed to make it to the shootout.

Shootout

David Perron opened the shootout for the Blues with a quick snapshot over the shoulder of Saros. Things were looking good when Allen stopped the first 2 Nashville attempts. The Blues now had two chances to win- either a Brayden Schenn goal or a Jake Allen stop. Unfortunately, neither occurred, as Schenn had the puck roll off his stick, and Allen couldn’t stop Filip Forsberg. When Robert Thomas also lost the puck, it was Daniel Carr’s turn. Carr was the recent call up from Milwaukee, and the new edition ended it when he beat Allen high glove side after a subtle fake to the blocker side.

Summary and Notes

The Blues did well to claw back into the game and salvage a point on the road, but for the 2nd time in 3 nights, they found themselves trying to battle back from an early two-goal deficit. Nashville played a solid defensive game for the most part, but the continued lack of scoring (aside from the Calgary game) is a concern for the Blues.

Not surprisingly, Troy Brouwer was adequate in his return, playing a solid defensive game when he was on the ice and making sound decisions with the puck. Robert Thomas continues to flash his skill, especially on the series that led to the Blues 2nd goal. His skating ability, great passing, and effort to keep the puck in the zone were key to the Blues tying the game and eventually earning a point.

Jake Allen deserved a better fate. He was the best player on the ice, stopping 37 of 39 shots in regulation, as well as stopping the first 2 Nashville attempts in the shootout.

Although the Blues have done well to stay atop the Central Division and find ways to tally points, one can’t help but wonder how much of a difference Vladimir Tarasenko‘s presence would make. Sure could’ve used him in the shootout tonight…

The Blues were one Nashville shot away from allowing 40 or more shots in their 3rd consecutive game, which is not the style of play Blues fans are accustomed to. If St. Louis can’t find more offense and continue to give up a lot of shots, they may not sit atop the central for much longer.

Next up, the Blues head to sunny Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday at 7 pm eastern. The Blues took down the Lightning 3-1 in St. Louis last Thursday.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *