If variety is – indeed – the spice of life, then the Nashville Predators’ contest with the St. Louis Blues on Thursday had some real flavor.
Variety for the Blues was the manner in which they scored their goals, a smorgasbord of one each at even strength, one on the power play and one shorthanded.
For the Predators, it was that they finally snapped a streak of seven straight one-goal games and – this made it tough to swallow – they suffered their first regulation defeat of 2010-11. The only remaining NHL team that had earned at least one point in every game was outshot 34-24 on its way to a 3-0 defeat before 15,506 at Bridgestone Arena.
“Streaks are a lot more for the media and (make) good headlines,” forward Steve Sullivan said. “In the dressing room, I think we’re a little bit more aware of how we’re playing, and some nights we didn’t play good enough to win and weren’t necessarily happy with the way we played.
“Sometimes we might have come away with a point but not happy with that. (Thursday) is no different, except that we didn’t get a point.”
Jordin Tootoo turned up the heat with 6:49 to play when he was assessed five-minute major and a game misconduct for charging. The call was made when Totoo drilled Blues’ defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo behind the St. Louis net.
“The big emphasis is on shots to the head, and I saw a shoulder-to-shoulder check and, to me, (Tootoo) didn’t leave his feet,” coach Barry Trotz said. “So I’m a little bit confused on that. … I thought it was a fairly clean hit.”
Immediately afterward two Blues’ players stepped up to Tootoo looking to exact a measure of revenge but things did not escalate to the point that any additional penalties were called.
Just over two minutes later, the Blues scored their power play goal.
“It’s a tough league that we play in,” Tootoo said. “You’ve got to keep your head up out there. The bottom lime is that when you hit someone hard, obviously the refs are going to take a second look at it.”
The Blues got the only goal they needed when Alexander Steen scored shorthanded at 12:56 of the second period.
The fact that it was shorthanded also was something new – it was the first allowed by Nashville this season. It also was misleading because it occurred just four seconds after Alexander Sulzer left the penalty box to conclude a brief period of four-on-four hockey. St. Louis had the puck deep in the Nashville end and was on the attack when Sulzer’s penalty expired.
The Predators’ deficit grew to two goals when they allowed one at even strength nearly 13 minutes into the third period.
“That’s just a little taste of what the Central Division’s all about right there,” Trotz said. “They play a real good team game. They have the lowest goals-against, and they give us the least amount of shots in the league.”
In other words, not much is likely to change in the Predators’ next contest, Saturday at Detroit, which at the start of play Thursday was fourth in the Western Conference for goals allowed per game.
• Nashville defenseman Francis Bouillon sustained an unspecified injury and was limited to 13:38 of ice time, only slightly more than half that of his partner, Shea Weber (26:01).
“He just got banged up a little bit,” Trotz said. “I think he should be OK.”
• After the hit by Tootoo, Colaiacovo spent several minutes on the ice being treated by trainers. Once he made his way to the bench, he walked back to the locker room under his own power.
• The Predators have allowed more than one goal in a period five times. Three times, including each of the last two games, it has happened in the third period.
• Nashville has been outshot in five straight games.