Alexander Steen scored the game’s only goal Tuesday night as the St. Louis Blues blanked the Nashville Predators 1-0 for their 5th win in a row. Brian Elliott stopped all 15 shots he faced to earn his 2nd consecutive shut-out. The win vaulted the Blues up into the 6th playoff spot in the West.
Tuesday’s result was almost deja-vu for the Blues, but the game they played against Nashville was a far cry from the one they used to beat the Red Wings 1-0 on Sunday. None of the numbers really show how listlessly St. Louis played last night for the majority of the game. The Blues out-shot the Preds 26-15 and out-hit them 25-18, but with very few exceptions the team looked tentative, overly-cautious, and just plain boring.
Where the Blues looked the worst was at the face-off dot, winning a paltry 36% of draws, and that played a big part in limiting the quality of their scoring chances. There were few rushes on Nashville’s iron-man goaltender, Pekka Rinne, who was appearing in his league-leading 39th game of the season. Even the lone goal, scored by Steen, was relatively lame, though it certainly counted.
It looked like he didn’t plan to or want to shoot the puck as he carried it all the way from his own zone but he surprised Rinne and everyone else. I’ll take the goal and the win, always, but I think the Blues will need to be much more aggressive down the stretch if they hope to stay in the playoff picture.
St. Louis did look good defensively against the Preds, but let’s be fair, Nashville was without FIVE regular forwards, including, Gabriel Bourque (11 goals.) Nevertheless, the Blues shut-down blueline threat Shea Weber and both teams were good at clogging up the middle of the ice, limiting the odd-man rushes to only a couple opportunities per side. It was a dull game but St. Louis kept its streak going. The Blues continue their road-trip tomorrow night in Minneapolis.
Elliott’s 2nd shut-out in as many games sets him up for a third consecutive start versus the Wild, who will likely provide a bit more action than the struggling Predators. Minnesota is coming off a tough 1-0 loss to Chicago but still boasts a 13-5-1 record on home ice. They recently added dynamic forward Jason Pominville to an already potent offense led by Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, and Ryan Suter. St. Louis hasn’t lost since adding defensemen Jordan Leopold and Jay Bouwmeester, but the Blues will need a much stronger effort than the one they offered last night to win Thursday, and more than one goal, I’d wager.
GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!