(Mark Buckner/Getty Images)
Off of a great game in San Jose, Preds fans cautiously looked forward to tonights game hoping that the team could gain some momentum and maintain some form. But no one, not even the most aggressive optimist, could have predicted the gift we received tonight. The Predators we're hot. Like really hot. They scored 5 goals on 12 shots and chased Elliott in the process. Although they tripped up a bit towards the end of the second, they finished with a convincing 6-1 win, and sent a division rival away with a bitter taste in their mouth.
Tonight, the team made watching Predators hockey enjoyable again.
The Predators kicked the game off to, arguably, one of the best starts in Franchise history. Ellis bagged a goal early, his second of the season. Richard Clune is slowly making me eat my words from earlier this season, as he got a gritty goal to put the Preds up 2-0 - his first career NHL goal by the way (congrats). And to make sure the Blues went to the dressing room on an especially bad note, Spaling got the third Preds goal with 47 seconds left.
At the other end of the ice, St. Louis only had 4 shots, all of them stopped by Rinne, who seemed almost bored through the first frame.
The second period picked up where the first left off. It continued to be pure domination by the Preds, and Klein got the team's fourth goal with a point shot from a Blum pass. The fourth goal led to Elliott getting the Yank and Jake Allen getting his first regular season NHL appearance (he played 59 seconds in a playoff game last year while Elliott fixed his equipment). But Allen's welcome to the NHL was a sour one, as a beautiful play by Colin Wilson lead to a Bourque Goal on Allen's first shot, only 1 minute after hitting the ice.
From there though, the Blues woke up. It was almost a flick of the switch that changed the team. They started rushing the net and getting more shots. They forced the Preds to take three almost consecutive penalties. They converted on the first one bringing the game to 5-1. Rinne made some amazing saves to make sure that the score stood going into the 2nd intermission.
Hot after the second, the Blues we're intimidating coming out to start the third on a powerplay. But again thanks to some big plays by Pekka, and overall a good penalty kill, Nashville regained some momentum. The midde part of the third was rather dull to be honest. It looked like a game with a clear victor.
Late in the third, Erat added to his night with the Team's sixth goal. A end of game skirmish involving Gaustad dissolved into nothing, and the Blues left the ice with their tails between their legs, as the Preds return home after a 7 game road trip that finished much, much better than it started.
Line Up Report
#35 Pekka Rinne
#1 Brian Elliott
#34 Jake Allen
Predators Scratches: #24 Matt Halischuk #23 W Brian McGrattan
Blues Scratches: R. Reaves, J. Swartz, I. Cole
Scoring by Committee. But maybe not the right committee?: 11 Players got points for the Preds today. Weber, Hannan, Gill, Fisher, Kostitsyn, Legwand and Smith are the only players who did not get onto the score sheet. It's great to see points from a big range of players. But where are our stars? Sure, leave it to me, your resident negative Nancy to criticize a 6-1 win, but our star players have not been where we need them to be this year. Weber, Gaustad and Smith are without points. Fisher is our consistent top center and he has 2 points. Legwand and Kostitsyn have 3. Now maybe you can make the case that they aren't our top line anymore. With Barry's shuffling players are getting closer to equal playing time (in comparison to other teams).
Nonetheless, it's great that we're all pitching in from every angle. But if we want to make this another successful season, we need our top line guys to start playing. Depth is great, but a top defensive pairing (Weber and Hannan) with 0 points just isn't good enough.
In Trotz we Trust: BarryTrotz knows this team. When we we're struggling after Anaheim, there was an unbelievable reshuffle that sent Hannan to the first pairing with Weber, and re-organized the offense. With the Erat injury, Trotz gave Blum a chance against San Jose. Tonight, despite only having 3 goals in the last 3 games, Trotz benched Halischuk and McGratten in favor of a 7 d-man system. It paid off. Nashville was great defensively and obviously it didn't hurt their offence.
Clune has also come a long way in the Nashville System. He hasn't dropped the gloves in 4 games, after picking what seemed to be needless fights early in the season. He is now a (somewhat) effective big body presence up front and tonight he even chipped in with his first career goal (and for the record, it was the GWG).
Are the changes sustainable? We'll see. But for now we're on a 3 game winning streak and we just thumped one our conference rivals. No matter how bad it looks out there, we have seen again that Trotz will have something up his sleeve.
Goals and Assists
1-0 NSH Ryan Ellis (PP) – Martin Erat, Colin Wilson: 2:10 in the 1st
2-0 NSH Richard Clune 0 Colin Wilson, Paul Gaustad: 15:53 in the 1st
3-0 NSH Nick Spaling - Brandon Yip, Roman Josi: 19:13 in the 1st
4-0 NSH Kevin Klein - Jonathan Blum, Martin Erat: 9:09 in the 2nd
5-0 NSH Gabriel Bourque - Colin Wilson: 10:09 in the 2nd
5-1 STL Alex Pietrangelo (PP) - T.J. Oshie, David Perron: 13:09 in the 2nd
6-1 NSH Martin Erat - Ryan Ellis: 16:43 in the 3rd
My Three Stars of the Game
1. Erat (1 goal 2 Assists)
2. Colin Wilson (3 assists)
3. Pekka Rinne (Some Unbelievable Saves)