The Blues looked to rebound Tuesday night at home against the Nashville Predators after a tough loss on the road at Detroit last Friday. Unsure which Nashville team would show up- the team St. Louis battled with to beat 4-3 in the second game of the season, or the one the Blues blanked 3-0 last time the Preds visited Scottrade Center. It may not have made any difference. The Blues barely showed up at all Tuesday night, getting stymied by Nashville net-minder, Pekka Rinne and bombed by the (previously) lowest scoring team in the league in an ugly 6-1 loss, their first at home this season.
Their balloon deflated after the Wings had beaten them four nights ago, someone in the St. Louis locker room forgot to turn the tanks back on as the Blues came out flat once again in the 1st period Tuesday. Only two minutes in the Blues had taken a penalty in the offensive zone and given up a power-play goal to Ryan Ellis. The Note have now allowed a power-play goal in SEVEN of their nine games, an area they were very strong in last season.
The 1st period saw a glut of whistles, mostly from icing calls as each squad had trouble settling the puck down and exiting their own zones. After scoring with the man-advantage, neither Nashville nor the Blues could get sustained pressure going. For much of the period the arena was silent as the Blues looked ever bit the team still nursing its wounds from their last loss.
Nashville later capitalized on sluggish defense by the Blues when Rich Clune tipped in a puck Brian Elliot couldn’t stop for a 2-0 Preds lead. Then, with under a minute to go, Nashville got their third tally of the frame when Nick Spaling banged in another uncontrolled rebound as Elliot floundered and Alex Pietrangelo and the Blues stood around in front of the net. Shots for the period ended up 9-4 in favor of Nashville.
The 2nd period saw more of the same with Nashville being allowed plenty of room to work in the offensive zone, and the Blues appearing to have lost their timing in every aspect of the game. What few decent scoring chances they managed all seemed telegraphed directly into the glove of Rinne, one of the best with the leather in the NHL. Nashville continued it’s punishment of Elliot with a another goal at 9:09 to make it 4-0. Elliot was pulled afterwards for the first time as a starter. With Jaroslav Halak on Injured Reserve, the Blues looked to rookie Jake Allen, called up from Peoria, to stop the proverbial bleeding.
Young Jake, seeing his first regular season action, was welcomed by the Preds with a goal on the first shot he faced. Watching Nashville split his defensmen, Allen was unable to corral a wrister that bounced up over his shoulder and Gabriel Bourque slipped by the flat-footed Wade Redden to knock in the rebound. The play was reviewed but the goal stood and it was 5-0.
The Blues finally got their first power-play opportunity twelve minutes into the 2nd period and made the most of it. Petro scored a nifty backhanded goal past a well-screened (thanks to Patrick Berglund) Rinne to make it 5-1, and the Blues started showing a little life.
After the goal, we started seeing much better puck movement and control from the Blues. Vladimir Tarasenko created multiple scoring chances both on shots of his own and some very nice passing, but Rinne stood tall and stonewalled them all. St. Louis looked better as the period went on, getting a couple more power-play chances but were unable to solve Rinne.
A late penalty on Nashville saw the Blues start the 3rd period with the man advantage. They couldn’t get a shot to go in and finished the night 1 of 4 on the power-play. They’d been strong early in the season but the Blues special teams have been ineffective for the most part over the last three or four games. While the Blues ended up out-shooting the Predators overall 32-19, I didn’t think they were getting enough quality scoring chances. Give credit to Nashville for clogging up the passing and shooting lanes throughout the game, and of course Rinne was stellar, as usual.
Martin Erat, who had been a non-factor the last time these teams met, had a very strong game for the Preds Tuesday night, with two assists and a goal, the latter coming late in the third, the final nail in the coffin on a very zombie-like performance by the Blues. Wholly a team loss, they missed chances, played poor defense, and left their goaltenders out to dry on most of the Nashville chances.
St. Louis has until Thursday night to regroup. The Detroit Red Wings come to town and the Blues will need to decide if they’re going to continue waiting 20 minutes to start their game, repeating their performances from their last two outings, both losses in which they fell behind 3-0 after the first period.
GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!