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Lopsided loss to St. Louis sours end of Nashville’s homestand


Oct 27, 2013


Coming on the heels of a 3-2 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets, Nashville had the momentum they needed to get off to a strong start against a tough divisional opponent in the St. Louis Blues. Unfortunately for the Predators, that momentum wouldn’t be enough to finish their homestand on a positive note.

Losing in overtime the previous night to the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis scored a goal in the first, two in the second, and three in the third to knock off the Predators 6-1 as Nashville celebrated Hockey Fights Cancer night in front of 16,681 at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators didn’t start the night on the right foot, giving up a goal only 5:27 into the first period as Alex Steen recorded his ninth goal of the season, a powerplay goal that ended Nashville’s consecutive games without a powerplay goal at seven and consecutive powerplays killed at 22. Nashville would put a bit of pressure on Halak during the first period, but St. Louis stole the show with 17 first period shots. Yet, Nashville found themselves only down 1-0 after twenty minutes.

“I think in the first period we didn’t play that bad. We had a lot of chances, but they were better than us overall and came up with a big two points,” said Predators forward Patric Hornqvist.

Nashville has had some trouble in the second period as of late and tonight was no exception. T.J. Oshie would make it 2-0 7:34 into the period on a shot that squirted past goaltender Carter Hutton’s pads and slowly past the red line. However, a penalty from Hornqvist just moments later would sum up the team’s frustrations for the night.

Skating down into their own zone, an inadvertent push from Hornqvist would send Blues forward Chris Stewart crashing into the corner and down to the ice for an extended period of time and Hornqvist to the penalty box for two minutes while being chased by St. Louis players along the way. Stewart would leave the ice under his own power, return to the game moments later, but would get a misconduct four minutes after the hit for trying to send a message back to Hornqvist.

Seemingly an unintentional hit, Hornqvist noted that it’s a play that happens from time to time.

“That’s how this game is. If you do something the other team thinks is bad, they’re going to come after you. Obviously they thought it was bad. I didn’t mean to hurt him or anything. It’s just everything goes quick there and he falls to the board. That happens every once and a while,” said Hornqvist.

The Predators would finally find the back of the net 52 seconds into the third as Nick Spaling would convert their second shorthanded goal of the year to make the score 3-1. As the night went, though, the bounces were clearly not going Nashville’s way. Pressing to try and cut the lead to one with the momentum push they earned, Alex Steen would put the dagger in the back of the Predators by banking a shot off the back of Hutton.

“We were feeling good about ourselves [after Spaling’s goal]. Then they come up with a ‘lucky’ goal, but it’s always the same players who get the lucky goals so I don’t think it’s a lucky goal,” said Hornqvist. “Steen’s a smart player to bounce it off the goalie. It’s one of those games where they get the bounces tonight, but they were still the better team over sixty minutes.”

After the Blues would net their fifth goal three minutes later, Hutton would be pulled in favor of Magnus Hellberg, who would play in his first career minutes in the NHL. While one wouldn’t call five goals on 26 shots a strong outing, Hutton played a strong game in his second straight start after the loss of starting goaltender Pekka Rinne.

“For me it’s obviously not a night where you want to give up five, but life goes on,” said Hutton. “You never want to get pulled, but that’s kind of the thing about being a goalie. You want to be there and you want to win. At the same time, it’s one game. Whether I gave up 12 or whatever, it’s just one loss. Life goes on”

For Nashville, it’s a game where having a short memory will help them in their upcoming road trip. Starting on Thursday in Phoenix, the Predators will not be back at home until Saturday, November 16th, a span of seven games. Tonight’s game wasn’t a poor outing, despite what the scoreboard reads. Nashville played strong, had a great number of chances to get the puck past Halak, but nothing could go their way.

PDO (a measure of shooting percentage added to save percentage) is an essential measure of luck for teams across the league. After their first twelve games of the season, Nashville is in the bottom half of that statistic. While luck isn’t a truly quantifiable statistic, watching the Predators miss point blank empty nets or seeing opposing goaltenders make continuously improbable high difficulty saves every game makes one wonder when or if Nashville will see the bounces finally turn to their favor.

For the sake of the Predators, they can only hope that the puck starts to bounce their way on the upcoming road trip.

Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua