Predators feed off fan frenzy
NASHVILLE, TENN. The Nashville Predators finally had a chance to show how they would react to their first loss this post-season. Returning home, they put their deep scoring on display and bounced back with a big victory.
Cody McLeod scored the game-winner early in the second period and the Predators beat the St. Louis Blues 3-1 Sunday to grab a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal.
“It shows a lot of character coming off a loss last game,” Predators goalie Pekka Rinne said. “We knew that coming in it’s a huge game, responded really well. It’s a good feeling obviously, but you already start thinking about the next one and trying to keep this momentum going.”
Defencemen Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi also scored and Colton Sissons added two assists. The Predators outshot St. Louis 34-23, and they now are 6-1 this postseason.
Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette said it was good to be home before a standing-room only crowd coming off a 3-2 loss in Game 2 on Friday.
“It was awesome today,” Laviolette said. “That’s a credit to our fans and the energy that comes into this building. You guys see that and get to experience it just like we do, so that’s a real positive for us.
“Nobody likes losing, probably on any team, and you look for a response, and I thought the response was good today.”
Alexander Steen scored for the Blues, who lost for the first time on the road this post-season.
Blues goalie Jake Allen kept St. Louis in this game before being pulled by head coach Mike Yeo for the extra attacker with more than four minutes remaining and took his time out with 1:25 left.
“We had a decent start, but once they started to get to their game, we didn’t seem to have an answer for it,” Yeo said. “They upped their game, they took their game to another level and we didn’t match it.”
Rinne finished with 22 saves, including a flurry of stops to preserve the win. Game 4 is Tuesday. With a national TV audience in the U.S., Nashville had plenty of stars on hand for the matinee ranging from Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott to country star Luke Bryan and Tennessee Titans Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray. Country group Little Big Town became the latest to sing the national anthem, and Lee Greenwood sang during the second intermission.
St. Louis came in undefeated on the road this post-season after winning three in Minnesota in the first round, while the Predators won both games in Nashville while sweeping Chicago. The Blues also had won nine of their last 10 road games overall.
Ellis gave Nashville a 1-0 lead with a slapshot from near the blue-line at 10:34 off assists from Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban. Ellis now has a point in six straight playoff games, extending his franchise record for a defenceman and also leading the Predators.