RYAN PROVIDES SPARK
NASHVILLE TAKES THE LEAD,
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.”
Predators defenceman Ryan Ellis celebrates after scoring a goal against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. Nashville now has a 2-1 series lead.