RYAN PRO­VIDES SPARK

NASHVILLE TAKES THE LEAD,

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

NASHVILLE — De­spite be­ing on the road, where the Blues have found great com­fort in the past cou­ple of months and par­tic­u­larly in these Na­tional Hockey League play­offs, St. Louis could not find any at Bridge­stone Arena in Nashville.

Nashville won, 3-1, in Game 3, tak­ing a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven West­ern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal se­ries on an af­ter­noon when the Blues weren’t nearly com­pet­i­tive enough, ac­cord­ing to coach Mike Yeo.

“We scored one goal tonight and fact of the mat­ter is, we weren’t even com­pet­i­tive,” Yeo said.

“We ob­vi­ously have to be way bet­ter. We had to make a cou­ple of changes personnel-wise for the next game and look at the tape and see what we can do dif­fer­ently a lit­tle bit bet­ter than tonight be­cause it wasn’t good enough.”

Game 4 is Tues­day in Nashville at 8:45 p.m.

The response to the team’s vic­tory in Game 2 was com­mit­ting four more mi­nors be­fore the game was out of reach and los­ing the face­off bat­tle 62-38 per cent, which cre­ated more pos­ses­sion time for the Preda­tors, who in turn out­shot the Blues, 34-23.

The Blues’ only goal of the game went in off Alexan­der Steen’s glove on the Blues’ first shot of the sec­ond pe­riod with 7:01 left in the pe­riod.

They were be­ing ter­ri­bly out­played at that point, but some­how found them­selves trail­ing just 2-1 with 27 min­utes still to play.

How­ever, with 5:49 left in reg­u­la­tion, Nashville de­fence­man Ro­man Josi gave the Preda­tors a 3-1 lead, two-goal cush­ion that they wouldn’t relin­quish while send­ing the Blues to their first road loss of the play­offs.

“It’s a hard-fought game,” Steen said.

“It’s their home barn, they came out hard in the first. I think as the game pro­gressed, we got to our game a lit­tle bit more. We had some good scor­ing chances and the game’s at 2-1 and then get hemmed in a lit­tle bit and ends up cost­ing us that third goal, which is tough.”

The Blues saw what stay­ing dis­ci­plined did for the bot­tom line in Game 2, tak­ing just one penalty and win­ning 3-2 to even the se­ries. But that out­come some­how didn’t im­press the ben­e­fits of good be­hav­iour in Game 3 Sun­day.

The Blues were whis­tled for three penal­ties in the first pe­riod, and though Nashville didn’t pick up any power-play goals, the Preda­tors scored twice shortly af­ter their man ad­van­tages ex­pired.

Ryan Reaves took the first 8:01 into the game, an el­bow­ing penalty that the Blues killed off. But three sec­onds af­ter Reaves ex­ited the box, Nashville’s Ryan Ellis buried his third goal of the post-sea­son for a 1-0 lead with 9:26 re­main­ing in the pe­riod.

So for third time in three games in the se­ries, the Preda­tors had the game’s first goal.

The Blues lost Paul Stastny for the fi­nal six min­utes of the first pe­riod af­ter an ap­par­ent — and while he came back — it took a while for their of­fense to re­turn.

The Blues were lead­ing 8-4 in shots at the time of Reaves’ penalty, but then went nearly 11 min­utes with­out a shot on goal be­fore get­ting two at the end of the first pe­riod. Al­ready play­ing four-on-four late in the pe­riod, Pa­trik Ber­glund put the club in more dan­ger with a high-stick­ing penalty. “Again, it’s the con­sec­u­tive penal­ties, we’re get­ting our­selves into trou­ble,” Blues cap­tain Alex Pi­etrangelo said.

“We’ve got to con­tinue to make sure we keep it five on five and take away those op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

MARK HUMPHREY, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Preda­tors de­fence­man Ryan Ellis cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing a goal against the St. Louis Blues on Sun­day. Nashville now has a 2-1 se­ries lead.

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