Juuse Saros made 23 saves through 65 minutes – plus three more in the shootout – and Daniel Carr potted the winner, as the Nashville Predators defeated the St. Louis Blues by a 3-2 final on Monday night.
The result gives the Preds a four-point sweep of their home-and-home set with the Blues, as well as two-straight victories, after putting an end to their six-game winless streak on Saturday night.
Going into a hostile environment in St. Louis on Saturday, the Predators came away with a much-needed win against the top club in the Western Conference, but to do it again on Monday night was even sweeter.
“We played two pretty complete games of great hockey,” Preds forward Ryan Johansen said. “For our team to get back on the winning side of things and to do it against them, it’s great. Now it’s about building off those two wins.”
“It was tight out there, both in St. Louis and here,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “The guys had to compete hard. I thought St. Louis was competitive tonight as well. The game was close, and I thought we were good defensively. We couldn’t seem to cash it in offensively and just get it going in our direction. We had lots of chances and opportunities, some chances that were in tight and some that could have put the game away, but we couldn’t get it done. It was nice to get it done in the shootout.”
Just as they did 48 hours ago, the Preds had an ideal start, and they found themselves up by two after the opening 20 minutes. First, Dante Fabbro lobbed a pass to Rocco Grimaldi in neutral ice, and Grimaldi then fed Nick Bonino, who walked in and sniped home his 10th of the season.
Just a few moments later, Johansen followed up a play at the net and roofed the rebound past Jake Allen to give the Preds a 2-0 advantage.
In the second stanza, it was David Perron, who cut the Nashville lead to one when he beat Juuse Saros on his own rebound, and then with just over six minutes to play in regulation, Brayden Schenn evened the score at two, forcing overtime.
The extra session saw a myriad of chances for the Predators, and after everyone collected their breath following an incredible five minutes of hockey, both clubs settled in for the shootout.
Ryan O’Reilly put the Blues up one on the first shot, but Saros was perfect the rest of the way, and after Filip Forsberg tied it on Nashville’s last chance, Carr, who was recalled from Milwaukee on Monday morning, sent the locals home happy.
“I’m just grateful for the opportunity,” Carr said. “One of the coaches [in Milwaukee, Assistant Coach Greg Rallo] said to me after I basically dumped one in my first game in a shootout and he looked at me and said, ‘Why don’t you just shoot the puck?’ I’ve been having some success with it, and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Even when the Predators were in the midst of their losing streak and it didn’t look promising on the outside, there were elements inside of their game that told them the wins weren’t far off. At the same time, they needed more to end up on the right side of the ledger, and now they’ve done so on consecutive occasions for the first time in a long time.
“We had to find a way to do a little more,” Johansen said. “You’ve got to keep finding ways to handle the little details and the little plays in the game. I think we’ve done that in the last two games now. We’ll look at things again tomorrow and keep finding ways to improve and continue to get better.”
Saturday’s triumph was satisfying, and Monday’s was even better. Now, it’s about getting back to playing Predators hockey and executing at the level the group knows they’re capable of achieving.
The past two outings will certainly help matters.
“We have to string them together now,” Bonino said. “Winning one isn’t enough. You look at the standings and it’s a very tough division. It’s tough, but for them to tie it up and put our back against the wall, I’m just happy we got those two points and just gave them one.”
Between the AHL and NHL, Carr now has four goals in the shootout this season, and all of them have been game-winners.
The Preds now have points in eight-straight home games against the Blues.
Kyle Turris and Yannick Weber were scratched for Nashville on Monday.
Nashville’s two-game homestand concludes on Thanksgiving eve when they host the Vegas Golden Knights at Bridgestone Arena (at 7 p.m. CT). The Preds will then head on the road for meetings in Carolina and Florida on Friday and Saturday, respectively.