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Preds Start Home-and-Home with Satisfying Win in St. Louis

Kyle Turris(#8) of the Predators celebrates with teammate Calle Jarnkrok [Photo courtesy of Nashville Predators]

Kyle Turris had three points and Mikael Granlund tallied the game-winner in the third period, as the Predators began their weekend on a high note by topping the Blues, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon at Enterprise Center.

The victory in a playoff-like atmosphere was Nashville’s third in as many chances against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, and the Predators will try to make it four wins when they host the Blues in Music City tomorrow, the second half of a crucial home-and-home set against their division rival.

“We came into the game really mentally prepared,” Preds Head Coach John Hynes said. “We talked about leaving [a 5-0 win against the Islanders in our last game] behind and making sure that we’re totally attached and invested in this game. I thought we had a very good first, they obviously had a good second period, but I really liked the fact that we had good mental toughness, good focus on the third period we found a way to win the game. That’s the most important part of this time of year.”

“It was a really big win for us,” Turris said. “We’re battling in the standings and trying to make up ground, so to start the back-to-back off with [a win], this was really important. It’s going to be a really important game tomorrow night too.”

The Predators were the superior team to start, as they registered the game’s first seven shots and owned a 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes. First, Viktor Arvidsson beat Jake Allen from a sharp angle less than seven minutes into the contest, and then Matt Duchene converted on the rush at the 12:23 mark.

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There was also plenty of feistiness between the two rivals in the first frame with Filip Forsberg and Brayden Schenn dropping the gloves early on, and then Jarred Tinordi and Robert Bortuzzo had a scrap later in the period, the latter of which showed a true example of the Predators sticking together.

“It’s awesome to know that [Tinordi] has my back and everyone in this room has my back,” Arvidsson said. “I’m not a fighter, it’s hard for me to do it and it’s cool to see guys stepping up for other players.”

In the second stanza, the home team came to life, and although Turris got Nashville’s third of the afternoon, the Blues scored three of their own to see a 3-3 score through two periods. The first of those St. Louis goals marked the first time Juuse Saros had been scored on in over four periods of hockey.

But then, on a power play in the third period, a rebound off a Roman Josi shot came to the stick of Granlund, and the forward slid it into the back of the net to give a 4-3 lead back to the visitors – his third game-winning goal in the last six games.

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“That was a real hockey game,” Granlund said. “There was a lot of emotion, a lot of 1-on-1 battles, and that’s a fun way to play the game. Overall, we played a pretty good hockey game, and we were able to get those big two points.”

The Predators would have preferred not to surrender three goals in the middle period, but a solid start before regaining the lead and finishing things off in the third was plenty satisfying for the group. Hynes has emphasized mental fortitude with his team since arriving in January, and Saturday was another prime example of their improvement in that area.

“There’s some certain things we certainly have to clean up in the second period, but I think when you look at the third period, that was a message in between periods to continue on the mental focus, the fortitude, the understanding what it takes to win games,” Hynes said. “The commitment level [it takes to] win games and the attention to detail [is imperative]. In the third period, we did a good job of that, and you know it’s important to be able to find ways to win tight games.

Josi assisted on Granlund’s goal to extend his point streak to five games, and Saros made 24 saves as he started for the fifth time in the last six contests for Nashville.

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With the road portion of the weekend now complete, the Predators will return home to Tennessee and try for another two points in 24 hours. It won’t be easy, but nothing in the Central Division ever is, especially at this time of the year.

“You’re going to be in a lot of games like this down the stretch where teams are fighting for points,” Hynes asid. “Games get more and more intense, particularly teams that are fighting for playoff spots. I like where we’re headed in that direction, mentally, with the victory.”


Colin Blackwell and Matt Irwin were scratched for the Predators on Saturday afternoon.

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The second half of the home-and-home comes Sunday evening in Nashville, a 5 p.m. CT start as part of Hockey Day in America. NBC and NBCSN’s 10-hour broadcast, which kicks off Hockey Week Across America, will originate from the Bridgestone Arena plaza starting at 11 a.m. CT and will conclude with a postgame show following the Predators and Blues game at 5 p.m. CT. Throughout their full day of coverage, NBC and NBCSN will feature the diversity and growth of hockey in Nashville, and across the country, before airing the Predators home-ice tilt.

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