NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Keith Tkachuk called it a chess match on ice.
And he made it checkmate.
Tkachuk scored with 2:08 left in overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
It was the second Thursday night in a row the two teams went into overtime against each other. Nashville won the first game 4-3 in a shootout. The two teams meet again Saturday night in St. Louis and Tkachuk expects another tight game.
"Both teams are battling for the same thing," Tkachuk said. "There are serious comparisons between our teams. We both have the same coaching philosophy.
"It was a little bit of a chess match. There was tight checking and two goalies making great saves."
In overtime, the Blues peppered Predators goalie Pekka Rinne with six shots on the power play. Tkachuk managed to score from in front of the crease a few seconds after the power play ended.
"We had possession and were moving the puck around," Tkachuk said. "I was sitting there by myself. I had an open net. I couldn't believe it."
Andy McDonald also scored for the Blues and assisted on Tkachuk's goal.
Steve Sullivan opened the scoring at 9:59 of the first period for the Predators. Jason Arnott passed the puck into the slot from behind the net. Sullivan, stationed in front of the crease, fired the puck low to Chris Mason's glove side.
"You know goals are going to get scored most games," Mason said. "The game was back and forth. Penalties kind of went back and forth. Both teams played a good game and smart game.
"We are fighting with the Predators to get the final playoff spot. It is great hockey to watch. It was a fun game to be part of. I wasn't surprised to see it go into overtime."
McDonald tied it at 14:06 of the second period, beating Rinne low to his stick side with a shot from the edge of the crease.
Neither St. Louis coach Andy Murray nor Nashville coach Barry Trotz was surprised at the closeness of the game.
"There was a playoff intensity," Trotz said. "It was real physical. It was emotional. There were great saves on both sides. Both teams were committed. All three games here have gone into overtime."
It was the first time in 14 games this season that the Predators have lost when leading after the first period. Sullivan is the only player who has scored for the Predators in their last two games game. He had the Predators two goals in the 6-2 loss at Detroit Wednesday night.
They are the first goals scored by Sullivan since coming back from a two-year absence due to rehab for a back injury.
"We need someone else to contribute," Trotz said. "But it is great that Sullivan is finally scoring and is feeling good about himself."
Notes: This was the fifth time the Predators have played the front end of back-to-back on the road and the second game at home. ... This was the second time the two teams have played each other in the last 10 days.
Head Coach Barry Trotz
On two teams battling to stay in the playoff race…
From one standpoint it was a playoff intensity, it as intense, it was emotional, it was all-the-above from both sides. Both teams are committed. All three games at home have gone into overtime so it wouldn’t be any different today
On the penalty kill in overtime…
They did a real good job until Legwand went down and tried to flush one of their players down (with his stick), and St. Louis threw it back up to the point, and then when they reloaded, Legwand and Zanon ran into each other a little bit that opened up the back side there, leading to the goal.
On Rinne’s play and his goal support…
No question I thought Rinne was outstanding today, I thought he was huge, with a number of saves that he made. He was real sharp, he saw the puck, he was big he was athletic – all the things that you love about Rinne. There was a chance when it was 1-0 in the second period we rattled one off the post, if that goes in that’s probably a different story and we would be in real good shape. That’s the roller-coaster ride you go on when you get into this situation when you are trying to get into the playoffs and you have two teams battling it out. It will be a battle on Saturday, I expect no less.
On how de Vries matched up against the Blues…
I thought he jumped in there and did a real good job and managed the game really well against this big team. I thought he was a good fit there.
Defenseman Shea Weber
On the disappointing loss…
I thought we came out a lot better tonight. We got the lead early and just let it slip away. We still managed to get one point so we just need to go to St. Louis and play well on Saturday.
On the team’s turnovers being a problem…
They were a big problem at both blue lines – both offensive zone and defensive zone. Other teams have good transition and it is something that if we can’t do, it proves costly.
On the overtime loss being frustrating…
It’s tough. I feel bad for Pekka (Rinne) because he has stood on his head the last half of the year for us. He’s going to keep playing well – that’s just him. He’s a competitor. We’ve got to have better for him.
On if the season is slipping away…
Nope. We are still in it. We are still right there. We have another big game in St. Louis and we’ll go from there.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne
On more bodies on him in front of the net…
Maybe a few times there were. You don’t really care about it as long as you are stopping the puck. It doesn’t really phase me that much.
On the frustration of losing after playing a solid game…
We need every single point and it is tough. Obviously we have to be happy with one point but it is not enough. We have to come with an effort. I’m not happy with one point but obviously we need every single point. But one is something.
On the Blues final power play…
They had a lot of shots and there is a lot of room on the ice when it is four on three. They executed pretty well and made good plays. They have some good shooters and they did a good job.
Forward Steve Sullivan
On the play of the game…
I thought we had a lot of speed through the neutral zone. I thought we took it to them pretty well with 29 shots on net. We just didn’t bury our chances and that’s what it comes down to.
On the final penalty…
I think we did a great job trying to kill the penalty but you’ve got to try to kill to the next whistle. They made a great play – a little tic-tac-toe play in front of the net. You can’t blame our goaltender. I think Pekka played an unbelievable game again tonight and gave us a lot of opportunities to win.