Monday, January 21, 2013

Blues rally in shootout, top Predators

Elliott perfect in relief of Halak; Oshie, Steen net shootout goals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When Brian Elliott stepped onto the ice for the first time this season, he did so without warning.

Elliott's job was to give the Blues a fighting chance. He came on cold and left the ice hot.

Not only did Elliott give the Blues a chance, he helped earn two points in a building that's been tough to win in against division rival Nashville.
(Getty Images)
The Blues' Barret Jackman (5) celebrates with Vladimir Tarasenko
after the rookie scored Monday night in Nashville. 

Elliott stopped every puck thrown his way -- 13 in all -- and then went on to thwart the Predators twice in the shootout as T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen scored shootout goals, and the Blues rallied for a 4-3 win against the Predators Monday night at Bridgestone Arena.

Elliott, who coach Ken Hitchcock named the starter Tuesday night in Chicago, entered the game at 12:53 of the second period in place of Jaroslav Halak, who was pulled after allowing his third goal on only 11 shots. No time to think, no time to warm up. Hitchcock wasted little time and Elliott responded accordingly.

"You just want to do your best for the guys," Elliott said. "We worked that hard to get those two goals. We just wanted to get back in the game. When you get thrown in the fire, obviously the long layover that we had last year, my first action of the year, it's almost better to get in there with really nothing to lose and go out there and play your game. Let the guys in front of you do their job."

Hitchcock has been known a time or two throughout his career to make goalie switches at the right time. It was obviously time to regroup.

"We got a real good effort from Elliott to lock it down," Hitchcock said.

Steen, whose goal ended the game, watched Oshie's attempt closely and picked up a tendency on Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who stopped 35 shots in defeat.

"I honestly didn't know what I was going to do until I watched Osh," Steen said. "When Osh came in, I felt like (Rinne) bit pretty hard on Osh's move. I just wanted to freeze him a little bit and try to beat him to the post."

The Blues, who opened the season by pounding Detroit 6-0, got a goal and two assists from rising rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, giving him five points in his first two games. Bernie Federko was the last Blues rookie to accomplish such a feat. Andy McDonald had a goal and assist and Kevin Shattenkirk added a pair of assists to give him four in two games.

Patric Hornqvist netted a goal and a pair of assists in leading the Predators, who lost for the second time in as many games by a shootout. Columbus won here Saturday night. Mike Fisher had a goal and an assist and Martin Erat tossed in a pair of assists, as Nashville has two points in its first two games.

"We haven't been beaten in a game," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We've been beaten in a little bit of a skills competition. At the same time, it's huge, especially the extra points in the league right now. If you can get them in the shootout, let's take them. But I thought today's game was a man's game. ... Tonight's was a man's game. You had to put your big-boy pants on and go. I thought we handled it pretty good."

Oshie beat Rinne with a backhand attempt after Elliott, who came on in relief of Jaroslav Halak, made a glove stop on Craig Smith. Then Elliott stopped Erat and Steen ended it by sliding a backhand home.

"Smitty's a friend of mine," Elliott said. "We skated together this summer. He (scored on) me a lot this summer, so I was glad to get this one tonight."

"You're not sitting down every night. You're not over-thinking things. But it's good to see some tendencies. I'm sure they're doing the same on us goalies. It's kind of a poker game out there. Just try your hardest and see what happens."

The Blues felt like five-on-five, they were fine, but the Predators converted two power play goals and kept the game tight throughout.

"The mistake we made was the new penalties that are going to be called, we got caught three times on them today," Hitchcock said. "That took away our five-on-five momentum. We had all kinds of five-on-five momentum. I thought we were playing really well. We gave back the momentum by having to kill too many penalties the second period."

A wild first period saw each team score twice, with Colin Wilson giving the Predators a 1-0 lead, beating Halak with a wrister from the slot, only to see the Blues answer with goals from Tarasenko and McDonald. Tarasenko's goal was the rookie's third of the season, and McDonald's snipe came on the power play off a feed from Tarasenko. It was the Blues' fifth power play goal in six tries to start the season.

The Blues had momentum, attacking Rinne at the other net, but a David Perron slashing penalty led to Fisher's tying goal for the Predators. Fisher scored with 2:47 left in the opening period despite Nashville being outshot 14-6.
(Getty Images)
Blues defenseman Roman Polak (left) battles Nashville's David Legwand
for possession of the puck Monday.

Rinne kept the Blues from grabbing a 3-2 lead when he was able to thwart Patrik Berglund from in tight in the waning seconds of the period.

Hornqvist's third point of the night produced the second lead of the game for the Predators, who converted their second man-advantage goal in three tries. Hornqvist took Erat's pass along the side of the goal and flipped a backhand high into the net 12:53 into the second period through Halak, whose night was finished.

But Nashville felt like they left some goals on the ice by only converting two of six chances.

"We've got to keep getting a few for us," Fisher said. "We had more opportunities tonight. We could have had a couple more, too. We've got to continue to bury them to help us out."

Alex Pietrangelo tied it 3-3 in the third, combining on a play with Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, as Pietrangelo beat Rinne from a tough angle at 12:10.

"We had a good push there," Schwartz said. "We played well five-on-five. We had the puck low. ... It was a big goal for us, obviously, a big part of us getting that (first) point."

* NOTES -- Defenseman Wade Redden took part in the morning skate but did not dress for the game. Redden, 35, began skating Sunday but is working through some immigration issues before he's allowed to play. Jamie Langenbrunner, Matt D'Agostini and Jeff Woywitka were the healthy scratches. ... McDonald took a puck to the face late in overtime but Hitchcock said after the game McDonald is fine, just needed a few stitches.

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