Preds drop road opener 4-1 in St. Louis
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 1:13 AMST. LOUIS
– Former Predator Paul Kariya set up Brad Boyes for the first two St. Louis goals, as the Nashville Predators (2-1-0) dropped their first road contest of the season, 4-1, in front of a sellout crowd on opening night at the Scottrade Wednesday night.
Scoring chances were few and far between for Nashville, as the Blues built up a four-goal lead before Jordin Tootoo
finally put them on the scoreboard late in the second period. Manny Legace got the win in net for the Bluenotes, who outshot the Preds 32-20 on the night.
St. Louis sent the raucous crowd to its feet early as Boyes finished off a three-on-two rush just 54 seconds into the squad’s home opener. The counter attack by the Blues, spearheaded by Kariya, was created by a Preds line change.
“We knew they were a quick-start team, but we weren’t prepared
|Alexander Radulov battles for the puck with Barret Jackman during the second period. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
and didn’t have enough guys who brought their ‘A’ games tonight,” Predators assistant coach Peter Horachek said. “Several of the goals were avoidable if we would have been sharp out there, but we just have to deal with this bit of adversity with the mindset that we will rebound for tomorrow night’s game.”
For the second consecutive contest, Darcy Hordichuk attempted to lift the Preds spirits with a spirited bout less than two minutes later. Hordichuk exchanged fisticuffs with Blues tough guy D.J. King until both were too tired to go any longer. Jason Arnott drew a penalty 20 seconds later, and Nashville seemed to catch its breath following an eventful first three minutes.
The Blues maintained control of the game, though, and Boyes struck for the second time at 13:47 of the opening period to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead. Kariya once again created an odd-man rush, this time sending Boyes and Keith Tkachuk on a two-on-one. Boyes looked off his flanker, and threw a shot at Preds goalie Chris Mason. He didn’t score immediately, but flipped the rebound over the sprawling netminder for his third goal of the young season.
A misplayed clearing attempt along the boards early in the second period enabled the Bluenotes to grab a three-goal lead. Ryan Johnson was the recipient of King’s trap-and-pass at the Predator blue line after the St. Louis centerman caught the defense eying the puck, and snuck behind them. He put his body into a backhander from a few feet out to finish the play at 5:39.
“Their goals were created by us not being in good position,” Horachek said. “The shots and rebounds should have been diffused early or redirected to the corner but our defense didn’t play a smart game tonight.”
Mason did his part to keep the game close despite his skaters’ woes. At 7:19, the NHL’s Third Star of the week stonewalled Jamal Mayers on a shorthanded breakaway after the “d” turned it over at its own blue line.
But, Nashville couldn’t fend off the continuous attack, and the Blues kept piling it on with their fourth goal at 11:23. The Predators were still scrambling in their own zone just four seconds after the expiration of a Tootoo penalty and capitalized on a rebound goal by Lee Stempniak. With Martin Rucinsky crowding his crease, Mason was unable to recover from a point shot, and Stempniak had an open net to shoot at from eight feet out.
Dan Ellis made his Predators debut following the fourth tally, relieving Mason, who made 14 saves in 31:23. Ellis, in just his second NHL game, stopped all 14 shots he faced in 28:37 of work.
|Jason Arnott skates around Blues d-man Barret Jackman. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
A give-and-go between Tootoo and Alexander Radulov
finally got Nashville on the board with just 54 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Surrounded by Blues defenders, the two initiated the play at the top of the right faceoff circle, with Tootoo eventually breaking loose and snapping a quick wrister past Legace to close the gap to 4-1. Blue liner Dan Hamhuis collect the secondary assist on the goal, giving him four points (1g-3a) in three games. The Smithers, B.C., native did not hit the four-point mark until Nov. 25 last season, the 22nd game of the season.
The Predators were unable to muster much of a comeback in the third period, as the Blues were content to sit on their three-goal lead. The home team therefore played a conservative, responsible style in their own zone, keeping scoring chances to a minimum while still outshooting the Preds 7-4 in the third. Head Coach Barry Trotz and his staff used the third to try out some different line combinations, hopefully finding something that could be used in more favorable circumstances.
“We were just trying to gain some momentum and win the third period when not too many of our guys were playing their best game,” Horachek said. “We were also trying to send a message that we cannot have off-nights in this league.”
One of the lone bright spots for the Predators came via the penalty kill, where the team blanked the Blues on all six of their power play opportunities. On the season, Nashville has now killed 17-of-17 chances against. The Preds power play meanwhile, was unsuccessful on four man-advantage opportunities.
Nashville completes its first of 12 sets of back-to-back games it will play in 2007-08 when it hosts the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday night at the Sommet Center (7 p.m. CT). The Coyotes will be in a similar situation, having dropped a 3-0 decision in Columbus Wednesday night. Tickets for the game are still available at the Sommet Center box office, by calling (615) 770-PUCK, or by logging on to nashvillepredators.com and ticketmaster.com.
GAME NOTES: Nashville falls to 2-6-1 in road openers…The loss was just Nashville’s second in the past 17 contests against the Blues dating back to Oct. 15, 2005. The Predators still lead all-time series between the two teams 23-21-6…Scratched for Nashville was Scott Nichol, while the Blues sat Erik Johnson, Dan Hinote and David Perron.