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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Martin Erat scored the lone goal of the shootout, and the Nashville Predators beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 on Saturday night.
The Predators finished the regular season by winning three of four and reaching 100 points. They have a chance to finish as high as fifth in the Western Conference but will need Chicago to beat Detroit, and Colorado to down Los Angeles on Sunday to avoid falling as far as seventh.
Jason Arnott scored the regulation goal for Nashville, which won the season series with St. Louis 5-1. Pekka Rinne stopped David Perron and Andy McDonald, and Brad Boyes missed in his last chance to continue the shootout.
Steve Sullivan missed the puck on Nashville's first shot and tried to tap it in on a second try, but that is not allowed. Erat, skating second, beat Ty Conklin's glove for the win.
David Backes scored St. Louis' lone goal.
This was the seventh time in 13 games the Predators had gone to overtime and they went 6-1 in those games. They went to the shootout when David Legwand just missed outside the post on a rush with just over a minute left in overtime. Conklin blocked Arnott's shot with 30 seconds remaining.
Keith Tkachuk sat out one night after he played at home in St. Louis, marking his final NHL game after 19 seasons. St. Louis also scratched defenseman Barret Jackman and center T.J. Oshie among others. The Blues went young, starting started prospects Lars Eller and Jonas Junland.
That seemingly made it easier for Nashville to finish the regular season with a win.
The Predators came out sluggish and the Blues scrapped for the puck all over the ice. Rinne sent the game into the first intermission at 0-0 with a glove save on Alex Steen's backhander after a breakaway attempt in the final seconds.
Conklin helped kill all three Nashville power plays.
But Arnott put Nashville up 1-0 with a snap shot from the slot at 5:26 of the third off an assist from Shea Weber for his 19th this season.
Backes answered with 10:18 gone, snapping his own shot behind Rinne from between the goal line and the left circle on a nice pass from Boyes from the right circle for his 17th.
Rinne made a kick save on Paul Kariya who took a pass for a 1-on-2 breakaway with about five minutes left. He stopped Kariya again a couple minutes later. Rinne then stopped Matt D'Agostini with 38.8 seconds left in regulation.
NOTES: Nashville had three players appear in all 82 games this season with Legwand, the franchise leader with 704 games played, Ryan Suter (203) and Steve Sullivan (122). ... Blake Geoffrion played in the NCAA Frozen Four on Saturday night for Wisconsin, but the Predators' second-round draft pick from 2006 drew a huge ovation from the crowd during the first stoppage with the announcement of his Hobey Baker award win.
Head Coach Barry Trotz
On winning in a shootout:
“We got it done but it wasn’t the way we wanted. We didn’t have a lot of detail but we found a way to win and that’s been our mantra. We’ve found ways to win and 100 points is not a bad way to end the season. We’re 14-6-1 in the last stretch and the body of work is good. At the beginning of the year, if you told me we’d have 100, I would be pretty happy. St. Louis Blues played hard, they had some young guys in it, and they wanted to finish strong. I give them a lot of credit. Keith Tkachuk has been a warrior and force in this league. He’ll be missed and he’ll be a Hall-of-Famer. He’s been great for all the teams he’s played on. He’ll have a good secondary career in whatever he chooses.”
On St. Louis’ changed lineup:
“One of the things that was new for us was that they changed a few people in their lineup and wanted to finish strong. Paul Kariya picked it up in the second half. Andy McDonald and Ty Conklin played well. The Blues played a solid game. We had a bit of time off and lost a bit of our edge and they forced us to bring our level up, though it wasn’t exactly what we wanted. We had to compete hard to be in this hockey game and our level is going to have to rise for the playoffs. Our details will have to improve but I’m glad there was struggle.”
On practices before the playoffs:
“We need to sharpen everything: pace, execution, details, line changes, our overall play, every zone – just details. We had great chances and we’re tired, so we just go off and that’s not good enough. From our standpoint, our intensity needs to go to another level, but we’ve won a lot of close games and have one of the best records in one-goal games. But we have to eliminate free chances and not leave it up to Pekka. We have some guys trying to run up to the moving train and it’s been tough. Joel Ward has been fighting a bug. Arny is coming back after a long layoff and he’s got some catching up to do. There are some guys who have been in our third and fourth lines that need to pick their game up. The whole group has done some good things, especially on the road, but at home we got off to a bit of a slow start. Power play hasn’t been as strong as we wanted to, but we’ll work on that. Goaltending has been a strength down the stretch.”
On not scoring as much as earlier in the season:
“We haven’t really been lighting it up and we’ve scored less than we’ve given up and we have 100 points. That probably doesn’t happen to too many teams. Arny’s one of the few guys who can launch a puck like that and Weber gave him a good pass. It was a struggle and it was a good thing to go through.”
On one-goal games:
“I don’t think you see too many games where there are blowouts, so one-goal games are key for us. Our first goal of the season was to make the playoffs and 100 points, I don’t know if that will get us fifth or seventh, but that was number one. Number two was to win a road game in the playoffs. If we can do that, we have a chance.”
On depth in scoring:
“We’re going to need depth scoring. I really take pride in that our first two lines are good and work at competitive levels, in the hard areas, and the last two games, we’ve pulled back. It’s something we’ll regain, but that’s something we usually pride ourselves on.”
Captain Jason Arnott
On getting the win tonight, even though it went to a shootout…
It’s tough when you are in the playoff atmosphere but we wanted this win tonight, no question. We were flat in the first, but we picked it up in the second and third. I’ve got to hand it to [St. Louis]. They came to play and they didn’t quit. They played for their jersey and they’re a hardworking team.
On being able to get two points…
Our main goal was getting into the playoffs. Obviously we wanted to finish as high as we could and the other night was disappointing against Phoenix. We wanted to end on a good note and we did. Now it doesn’t matter who we play.
Forward Steve Sullivan
On getting the two points…
All that we could control was getting the two points. It wasn’t our best performance but I think that in the end we turned it out and were able to get the two.
On Pekka’s performance in tonight’s game…
Pekka has been outstanding again. I think that he definitely kept us in the ballgame. He gave us the first point and we were able to get the second. He was no different than he’s been throughout the season.
Defenseman Shea Weber
On sensing that Arnott was close by for the goal…
Obviously, my first thought was to shoot and then I realized that I probably wouldn’t score from there. So I saw Arnott and knew he was there and I just tried to get it over to him.
On giving St. Louis too many chances in the third period…
Definitely, it wasn’t our best effort. Pekka was great and he made some big saves for us. Now we’ve just got to focus on the playoffs and whoever we play. We’ve got to start playing some better hockey.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne
On the overall play in tonight’s game…
We didn’t start the game well. We played really well in the second period but we weren’t too happy. Obviously we’re really happy with these two points and tomorrow we will know more but it was a good win. It’s nice to get the last home win and that’s a pretty big thing momentum wise.
On the team’s expectations being exceeded by reaching 100 points this season…
Well, if you look at the standings in the East, that’s a little bit of motivation for playing in the West. If you look at the standings, almost every team has 100 points so that’s one of those things where you have to keep going if you want to go to the playoffs.
|Martin Erat Tripping against David Backes|
|Brad Boyes Tripping against Martin Erat|
|David Backes Tripping against Colin Wilson|
|David Backes Interference on goalkeeper against Pekka Rinne|
|Martin Erat Tripping against David Perron|
|SA: 36||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 35||EV: 28 - 29|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 7|
|SV%: .972||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 34||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 33||EV: 31 - 32|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 0|
|SV%: .971||SH: 2 - 2|