CHICAGO - OCT. 18: Jaroslav Halak #41 of the St. Louis Blues stops a shot against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on Oct. 18 2010, in Chicago, Ill. The Blackhawks defeated the Blues 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jaroslav Halak
The St. Louis Blues finally have a win in Bridgestone Arena thanks to an excellent performance by Jaroslav Halak.
For the St. Louis Blues, Nashville has been a city where momentum has gone to die. St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock was 0-11-6-1 in his last 18 visits to the Music City.
With Jaroslav Halak leading St. Louis onto the ice as the Blues looked to rebound from their 4-2 thrashing versus Boston on Wednesday, the visitors were able to get on the board early when former Predator Jason Arnott tossed the puck into a goal mouth scrum. Bouncing into the net off the leg of Chris Stewart, the goal would be his second in as many games.
Holding the lead through the first period thanks to a stifling defensive effort, the Blues restrained Nashville to just six shots after 20 minutes.
The tables would be turned in the second period, with the Predators outshooting their Central Division brethren 11-5. Nashville would also bring the game back under their control when recently-acquired Brandon Yip led an odd man rush out of his own zone to take advantage of a delayed penalty. Cutting around the Blues' defense, he would send a cross ice pass to Roman Josi, who beat Halak stick side to tie the game.
St. Louis would get an opportunity to break the tie with a power play midway through the period after Hal Gill accidentally cleared the puck over his own glass, but Pekka Rinne and the Nashville PK were able to hold their own, and the momentum appeared to tilt into the home team's favor yet again when Colin Wilson drove to the net following the successful kill and backhanded a shot to put the Predators ahead.
The Blues, however, were able to counter-punch almost before the fans in Bridgestone Arena had sat back down from celebrating, with Patrick Berglund starting a cycle by winning a battle for the puck along the boards deep inside Predator territory. Kicking the puck to David Perron, the playmaking winger moved to find a lane before putting the puck on net, where Vladimir Sobotka would finish by backhanding the rebound in just over 30 seconds after the Wilson goal.
With the game tied at two apiece, the normally defensive play of each team seemed cast aside in favor of end-to-end rushes and crashing the crease throughout the remainder of regulation and into OT, but neither side could find the advantage, and the teams would be headed to a shootout for the third time this season.
With Nashville coach Barry Trotz electing to have his team shoot second, T.J. Oshie would open the shootout for the Blues by going in on Rinne and scoring with a nice forehand-to-backhand move. Wilson would attempt to change things up and go low rather than his earlier top-shelf attack, but Halak would stay sharp, making a pad save.
Andy McDonald would take the second attempt for St. Louis, and appeared to lose some control of the puck when it flipped up on edge as he skated in, but the veteran would find a gap to score through Rinne's legs, putting the pressure on Nashville. With Martin Erat needing to score to keep his team alive, the long-time Predator lost control of the puck as he attempted to make a last minute deke, sending it harmlessly wide of the net.