It wasn’t exactly a shootout, but it ended with one, which — on both accounts — should have been good news for the Nashville Predators.
The Predators, the Western Conference’s lowest scoring team but unbeaten in shootouts (3-0) through their first 19 contests, nearly set a franchise record for fewest goals allowed in a home but scored just enough to send the game to overtime.
When they got to the shootout, where they had converted on 55 percent of their attempts (5-for-9) in their three victories, they came up empty on five tries. The last was by Sergei Kostitsyn, who needed to score in order to extend things to a sixth round but instead rang his shot off the post.
The official result was a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday in just the second home game in more than three weeks, this one before 16.603 at Bridgestone Arena.
“I thought we played a pretty solid game and had lots of chances, just couldn’t find the back of the net,” coach Barry Trotz said. “Obviously it goes into the shootout and that’s a little bit of a skills competition.
“… There’s going to be games you deserve to win and there’s going to be games that you sort of steal. This one, I thought we deserved to win, and they’re leaving here with the extra point.”
Nashville overcame the fact that St. Louis scored on the first shot of the night — nine seconds into the contest — as well as the fact that it was called for three of the first four penalties and outshot the Blues by a 2:1 margin, 30-15.
The Predators tied it when Jerred Smithson scored 22 seconds into the second period, and over the final 40 minutes of regulation their shot total (22) was nearly triple that of St. Louis’ (eight).
“We definitely played well enough to win,” captain Shea Weber said. “It was just one of those games where we couldn’t produce anything offensively. There’s nothing else you can say. We needed to score goals.”
The Blues, conversely, had a hard enough time just getting the puck on net.
St. Louis’ shot total (15) was one more than the fewest ever allowed by Nashville at home. Dallas was limited to just 14 late last season (March 23) on a night when it dumped the Predators 3-1. New Jersey also had just 15 back on Nov. 29, 2002, a game the Predators lost 2-1.
The Blues’ previous low for shots this season was 22.
“We over-handled some pucks, we under-handled some pucks,” St. Louis coach Davis Payne said. “They applied pressure in our own zone. We got ourselves running around a little bit.
“In the end, we’ll take this as two points knowing that we probably snuck out of here with an extra point or two.”
Those offensive problems extended to the shootout, where three of St. Louis’ first four shooters missed the net altogether. Nashville had similar issues, though, before Blues’ center Andy McDonald, who also scored the goal in the opening minute, slid a backhand shot along the ice and between the legs of goalie Pekka Rinne, who is now 14-6 for his career in shootouts.
“They didn’t have too many chances and too many shots,” Rinne said. “The guys played really, really well in front of me.
“… It’s tough to gets wins in this league, and it’s disappointing when you lose.”
• The Blues’ first goal was not exactly a masterpiece. The puck came to McDonald on a deflection off the stick of defenseman Francis Bouillon. McDonald then beat Rinne with a shot that deflected off the stick of defenseman Kevin Klein.
“That was an unfortunate goal,” Trotz said. “… It wasn’t quite the start we wanted.”
• Rinne has played the last seven games, his longest stretch since he played nine in a row last season from March 12-25.
He has allowed just four goals in his last four outings but is only 2-1-1 over that stretch.
“Every game you want to win,” Rinne said. “And it’s disappointing when you lose some games. To me, a loss is a loss.”
• Defenseman Ryan Suter was back in the lineup after having missed the previous two games after he reinjured the knee, which caused him to miss nine earlier contests.
He played 26:31 (the most since opening night) and was one of only two Nashville players — Weber, his defense partner was the other — with a plus-1 rating for the night.
• The Predators are now 4-3-1 against the Central Division with half of those games having been played against St. Louis. They are 2-1-1 against the Blues.