The Predators made a statement with their 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Monday. And with that statement, they jumped over the Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets into second place in the Central Division standings.
Alexander Radulov and Martin Gelinas each scored two goals and added an assist in the second game of a home-and-home series sweep against the Blues.
Shea Weber and Scott Nichol also scored for the Predators, and Chris Mason made 31 saves in goal.
Brad Boyes gave the Blues a 1-0 lead at 3:56 of the first period. The goal was Boyes’ sixth of the season against the Predators.
Dan Hinote and Keith Tkachuk also scored for St. Louis.
Weber’s power-play goal at 5:37 of the first tied the game at 1-1.
Radulov sent a backhand pass from the high slot toward Weber, who was in the left circle. Weber hammered a one-timer that beat Blues goaltender Manny Legace high to the stick side.
Nichol’s goal at 9:32 of the first put the Predators in front 2-1.
Nichol carried the puck into the Blues zone along the left side on a 2-on-1 with Ryan Suter. Nichol pulled up at the left faceoff dot and wired a wrist shot inside the far post for his third goal in the two games against the Blues.
Radulov’s first goal of the game came at 16:12 of the second period.
Off of a Marek Zidlicky pass Radulov, cut to the right of the net from the low slot, and sent a wrist shot over the stick of Legace.
“I was open, he hit me, and we got the goal,” Radulov said. “Each night we have different guys who step up, and that’s what you need to have.”
Late in the second, Nichol was whistled for a holding the stick penalty.
Early in the penalty kill, Dan Hamhuis’ stick broke. Jerred Smithson surrendered his stick to Hamhuis, causing Preds players and fans to flashback to Thursday night, when a broken Smithson stick led to an Anaheim power-play goal.
Monday was a different story though. Smithson was aggressive despite not having a stick. He sacrificed his body blocking a shot, and put a solid body check on ex-Pred Paul Kariya.
“You feel a little lost, especially when you are tired,” Smithson said. “We managed to find the puck and clear it, and the team fed off of it.”
Nineteen seconds after the penalty expired, Gelinas gave the Predators a 4-2 lead with just 37.2 seconds remaining in the third period on a deflection of Greg deVries’ shot.
After the game, head coach Barry Trotz raved about the penalty kill and the ensuing goal which turned out to be the game-winner.
“The guys bent, they did everything the could to get it out, and we were able to get it out, get a little bit of a change, and then come back and score,” Trotz said. “That shift sort of epitomized our team this year. They were resilient, they wouldn’t give up, and they stayed with it. Then they got rewarded in the end.”
Radulov’s second goal came at 1:58 of the third period and Gelinas added an empty-netter with 13 seconds remaining.
For the fourth consecutive game, Trotz dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards. The lineup was cut to ten healthy forwards when David Legwand left the game with a lower leg injury after playing just two shifts in the first period.
Trotz said that Legwand will not play Tuesday’s game in Denver against the Avalanche or Thursday’s game in Phoenix. Josh Langfeld will be recalled from the Milwaukee Admirals and join the team Tuesday in Denver.