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Blues foiled by special teams, Juuse Saros in 6-3 loss to Predators

Matthew DeFranks, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Hockey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Blues got a taste of their own medicine in a 6-3 loss to the Predators on Thursday night.

As they've made a second-half push into the playoff race, the Blues relied on their superb goaltending and resurgent power play to put them into the mix in the Western Conference. Nashville rode that formula on Thursday night.

The Predators scored two power-play goals and Juuse Saros made 44 saves to sink the Blues. The Blues remained five points behind Los Angeles for the last wild-card spot in the West, pending the Kings' late game vs. the Sharks on Thursday.

Filip Forsberg scored twice, once on the power play and once into an empty net with 1:44 remaining, for the Predators. Brandon Saad, Jake Neighbours and Jordan Kyrou (6 on 4 power play goal) tallied for the Blues.

With the loss, eight more points lost by the Blues or gained by the Kings would eliminate St. Louis from postseason contention. The Blues continue their three-game road trip on Saturday afternoon, looking for redemption against the Sharks.

The Blues allowed two goals in the first 90 seconds of a period on Thursday, and also allowed one in the last minute of a frame, as Nashville bookended periods with goals.

In the first period, just 31 seconds into the game, Predators defenseman Roman Josi scored on the rush, sneaking a puck through Jordan Binnington’s pads on a 2 on 1. Nashville had an odd-man rush when Saad lost a puck on the wall, and Colton Parayko pinched down the boards. Nick Leddy was the only Blue back on defense to defend in transition.

Nashville needed 1:13 to score in the second period, as Forsberg found the back of the net on the power play with a shot that beat Binnington between his legs. The puck may have been deflected by Robert Thomas’ stick on its way to Binnington.

The Predators struck again with 31 seconds left in the second period, as Anthony Beauvillier scored on the power play, his first goal with the Predators since his trade from Chicago. The goal gave Nashville a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission.

 

Michael McCarron pushed the lead to 4-1 in the third period, putting a shot under Binnington’s right arm after a defensive-zone turnover by Torey Krug.

Another one for Saad

Saad’s first-period goal was the Blues forward's sixth in the last seven games, and tied the game at 1 at 7:27 in the first period. Saad rifled a shot into the corner of the net, across the grain after he originally picked off a pass on the boards and then received a pass from Brayden Schenn to the slot.

Saad now has 26 goals on the season, the second-most in one season in his career.

Saad’s goal was the highlight of a strong first period for the Blues, who fired 20 shots on goal. It was the most shots on goal the Blues had in any first period this season. The only other times they had more shots on goal were in the third periods of lopsided games: 24 at Columbus on Dec. 8, 22 vs. Chicago on Dec. 23, and 21 vs. San Jose on Saturday.

The Blues had an additional 15 shots on goal in the second period.

Neighbours scored at 6:21 of the third period on the rush for his 27th goal of the season, and Kyrou made it a one-goal game with 2:14 left in the third period after the Blues pulled their goaltender.


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