Thursday, January 29, 2015

Blues top Predators 5-4 in shootout

Shattenkirk winner on his birthday pulls home 
side within four points of Central Division leaders

ST. LOUIS -- Kevin Shattenkirk made the most of his 26th birthday. His father Pat was in attendance to see his son step up in a crucial moment.

Shattenkirk scored in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Blues a 5-4 victory against the Nashville Predators at Scottrade Center on Thursday. 

"You kind of go into it and think to yourself, 'There's no way you can get gypped on your birthday,'" said Shattenkirk, who is 6-for-14 career in shootouts with five of them game-winners. "It was a nice little present and happy we had the fathers here. My Dad was here to see it too."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Kevin Shattenkirk (22) scored the shootout winner for the Blues in a 5-4
victory against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Shattenkirk beat Nashville goalie Carter Hutton with a forehand, and Brian Elliott stopped James Neal to give the Blues their eighth win in nine games (8-0-1). St. Louis (30-13-4) ended a seven-game homestand 6-0-1.

"Luckily I get to go when there's an opportunity to go ahead by a goal and not have to tie it up. I think that's mentally a huge break when you have that opportunity. It's nice when you get to go later after the other guys go so you can see what their goalie's doing a little bit." 

Jaden Schwartz, T.J. Oshie, Steve Ott and Ryan Reaves scored in the second period for the Blues, who trailed 2-0 and moved within four points of first-place Nashville (31-10-6) in the Central Division. Oshie also scored in the shootout. 

Elliott made 33 saves for the Blues, who play at the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

Elliott made three saves in the shootout, and got a bit of a break on Neal, who seemed to lose handle of the puck before Elliott stopped it.

"He's usually a shooter," Elliott said of Neal. "I don't think it settled down for him at the right time. Just kind of floated in on me."

"One point gained on them, but we definitely wanted the two-point game. That's why it's tough gaining ground." 

St. Louis lost left wing Patrik Berglund to an upper-body injury late in the second period, and center Jori Lehtera early in the third period to an undisclosed injury. Neither will play against Carolina but will travel, according to coach Ken Hitchcock.

"That third period, they showed they had one more game under their belt," Hitchcock said, referring to Nashville playing Tuesday. "That showed up. We looked like we had missed eight or nine days. That showed up also. 

"We were much better than they were in the first (period) and they were much better than we were in the third and the second was probably from a play standpoint a draw." 

Mike Fisher scored twice and had an assist, Neal and Filip Forsberg scored, and Roman Josi had two assists and scored a shootout goal for Nashville. Hutton made 31 saves for the Predators, who play at the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.

Neal beat Elliott from the slot off a pass from Fisher with 2:38 remaining in the third period to tie it 4-4.

Playing down two forwards allowed the Predators to attack more. They outshot the Blues 15-6.

"It looked like we ran out of gas in the third there," Elliott said. "Obviously they kept ragging it, ragging it, ragging it until they got that shot to score the fourth goal. We held in there."

The Blues took the lead with three goals in a 4:40 span of the second period, including two in 26 seconds. 

Schwartz made it 2-1 when he followed Vladimir Tarasenko's shot at 8:22. Oshie tied it 2-2 when he followed Stastny's shot at 12:36, then Ott's second goal with the Blues, off another rebound, gave the Blues a 3-2 lead at 13:02. 

Fisher's second of the game, a shorthanded goal, after a Schwartz turnover and when Elliott gave up a rebound of Josi's shot from the left point, tied the game 3-3 at 15:32. 

Reaves' slap shot from the right circle, after he stripped Predators defenseman Seth Jones in the neutral zone, beat Hutton with 1:45 remaining and gave the Blues a 4-3 lead. 

Reaves' shot resembled that of the 'Golden Brett,' who made a living with those kinds of shots.

"It was almost 16-like," Reaves joked, referring to Brett Hull. "It was probably the hardest shot 've ever taken and really leaned into it. I was just trying to get it either through him, or to 'Stas' on a 2-on-1. It worked out well."

Fisher gave the Predators a 1-0 lead, his 500th point in the NHL, on the strangest of goals. He tipped Josi's point shot, and the puck caromed off the glass behind Elliott, came back over the goal and went in off the goalie at 12:49 of the first period. 

The play was reviewed to determine that it did not hit the protective netting above the glass.

The Blues had chances in the first period to take control of the game, but Hutton was up to the task with multiple key saves. In the end, the Blues got the two points they needed against the team in front of them in the division.

"The first period we played was terrific," Hitchcock said. "We had eight scoring chances or seven scoring chances to one or two or whatever. Couldn't get ourselves any gap in it, couldn't finish there." 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Marcel Goc (57) made his Blues debut on Thursday.

"I thought we played hard," said Oshie, who has 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 13 games. "They're a great team and they made a pretty strong push at the end there. Unfortunately, they got a point out of us, but when a team puts that much pressure on you, one's bound to go in. 

"I thought we recovered really well, I thought we did well in OT."

Now with the Blues down two forwards heading into their game at Carolina, the fourth line guys (Ott, Reaves and newcomer Marcel Goc) will be called upon for big minutes. Goc won 13 of 18 faceoffs and played 12:56 in his debut.

"We got really good minutes from Goc, we got really good minutes from 'Otter' and we got great minutes from 'Revo' again," Hitchcock said. "This is two or three games in a row now where Revo's played outstanding, deserves more ice time and with the two injuries, he's going to get it." 

* NOTES -- Goalie Martin Brodeur, who announced his retirement earlier in the day Thursday, dropped the ceremonial first puck. ... With one goal from Oshie and an assist from David Backes, the line with Alexander Steen extended its point run to 55 in 13 games. Backes extended his point streak to eight games (seven goals, eight assists), while Steen saw his point streak come to an end at 10 (seven goals, 11 assists). ... Hitchcock's 154th victory with the Blues moves him into second place on the all-time franchise list. He trails Joel Quenneville, who had 307.

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