To say that the Nashville Predators had a difficult time getting shots on goal Saturday would be an understatement.
They went nearly 10 minutes without one in the first period, when they matched their season-low for shots in period. They were outshot in every period and finished with exactly half as many as the St. Louis Blues.
How unlikely, therefore, that it was a shot they actually did not attempt that resulted in their only goal of a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in – all off things – a shootout before a sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena.
David Legwand, the last to go in the shootout, was the only skater for either team who converted. In so doing, he extended Nashville’s current win streak to five games.
“They keep everything pretty tight and they play tough and they don’t leave much space,” Legwand said.
Despite the difference in shots, things could have been any tighter on the scoreboard than they were for the vast majority of the contest.
Still, the threat of a Shea Weber blast was enough to make goalie Jaraslov Halak commit hard to his left and leave the far post completely unprotected and out of his reach. That was where Mrtin Erat was when Weber, as he drove the right wing, instead passed him the puck.
Erat’s easy redirect into the open net broke a scoreless tie with 7:28 to play in regulation.
“I think a lot of goalies if a guy has the puck almost at the hash-marks, they’re going to be thinking ‘shot,’” Weber said. “Marty did a great job of getting to an open area and I was able to slide it over to him.”
At times, though, it seemed like shots were the farthest thing from the Predators’ minds.
They had just two – tied for their season-low – in the first period and managed to double that with four in the third. Their final tally of 20 (St. Louis had 40) was their lowest in an overtime game and tied for the lowest in any game since they had 14 at Calgary on Oct. 22.
Nashville actually registered the first shot of the game, by Patric Hornqvist 1:52 after the opening faceoff. Hornqvist got the next with 8:31 to go before the first intermission. It wasn’t until Nick Spaling got one at 3:56 of the second period that the Predators got their third.
“It was hard to get shots, but you have to have the mindset that you want to shoot it,” coach Barry Trotz said. “ … We found a way. I would probably say we didn’t have our ‘A’ game, but they forced us out of our ‘A’ game a little bit.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get a lot of shots in the first because you want to direct the puck there.”
It was the third time this season they had fewer than five in two different periods of the same game but the second time in those games they won. Their other victory was in that game at Calgary, 1-0.
This time they did so only after they overcame a penalty for too many men on the ice that led to St. Louis’ game-tying power-play goal with 3:52 left in regulation.
“Obviously, we didn’t have many chances [Saturday] night so it was good to bury that one,” Weber said. “But if we get the lead that late in the game we can’t give it up, especially by mismanagement, taking a too many men penalty in that situation.”
• For the first time this season, Nashville did not have a power play.
The only penalty called against the Blues was as time expired in overtime. Matt D’Agostini was called for charging.
The Predators were called for six penalties, which gave the Blues 10:42 of power play time, not to mention their only goal.
Nashville had scored at least one power play goal in seven straight contests.
• Goalie Pekka Rinne improved to 15-9-4 on the season with the victory and joined Mike Dunham (1998-99 through 2001-02) and Tomas Vokoun (2002-03 through 2006-07) as the only goalies in franchise history with at least 15 victories in four straight seasons.
• Erat’s goal snapped a streak of 13 straight games without one. He had 10 assists over that stretch.