Saturday, February 27, 2016

Shorthanded Blues overwhelmed 5-0 against Predators

Forsberg hat trick, Rinne 28-save shutout send 
St. Louis to season-high third straight loss in regulation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Blues have held out long enough this season overcoming injured players.

On Saturday afternoon in front of a large contingency of their fans filling Bridgestone Arena hoping for a clean sweep of the Nashville Predators this season, it wasn't even close to materializing.

Filip Forsberg has been hot against the league, and he continued his torrid goal-scoring pace against the Blues, scoring his second hat trick in three games -- all in the second period -- of Nashville's 5-0 win.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jake Allen (left) protests a high stick after Nashville's Craig
Smith scored in the first period of the Predators' 5-0 victory. 

The Blues (35-20-9) limp into Carolina for another matinee game Sunday afternoon losing three in a row in regulation for the first time this season; they lost five in a row (0-2-3) but gained points in three of those games from Dec. 31-Jan. 8.

"We just didn't have it, but play again (Sunday), so move on," defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "I don't think we've had too many all year. Anytime it happens, it stinks. But it happens to everybody. When you play 82 games, not all of them are going to be perfect."

The Blues have had a multitude of injuries throughout the season but played Saturday without Alexander Steen (upper body), Alex Pietrangelo (knee), Brian Elliott (lower body), Jori Lehtera (upper body) and Steve Ott (hamstring) has been out since Jan. 2.

The Blues are 0-3-0 since Steen went down and have been outscored 13-4; they've run into some good goaltending the past three games, including Pekka Rinne's 28-save shutout Saturday.

But good news came down Saturday night that Pietrangelo, who missed nine games, was activated off injured reserve and will play Sunday. He has been out since sustaining a right knee injury Feb. 6.

Forsberg, who has 12 goals in the past 11 games, put any notion out of reach in the second period when he scored three times on top of Craig Smith's first-period goal. Forsberg had four points in the game, Smith had a goal and two assists and linemate Mike Ribeiro had three assists. Nashville's first three goals, all scored by that line, came against Paul Stastny's line with Robby Fabbri and Troy Brouwer.

Top defensive pair Bouwmeester and Kevin Shattenkirk were each a minus-3.

Jake Allen made 19 saves on 23 shots but was pulled -- likely to get ready to play against the Hurricanes -- at 15 minutes, 34 seconds of the second period for Pheonix Copley's NHL debut.

The Blues earlier in the day acquired Edmonton backup goalie Anders Nilsson for goalie prospect Niklas Lundstrom and a 2016 fifth-round pick (the Blues had two picks, including one acquired from Columbus two seasons ago for defenseman Jordan Leopold).

Nilsson was recalled from Chicago, and the Blues assigned Copley and defenseman Jordan Schmaltz to the Wolves.

Smith scored 5:39 into the first when he slammed in Ribeiro's batted attempt of a puck that officials apparently ruled wasn't a high stick because it wasn't directed towards the net. It was the first goal the Blues allowed against the Predators here in 125:39; they shut out Nashville the previous two visits this season. 

"From a quick look, yeah (it looked like a high stick), but things happen fast," Bouwmeester said.

Forsberg's first came 54 seconds into the second when Petter Granberg's point shot caromed off Stastny's skate right to Forsberg, who had nothing but an empty net.

Forsberg struck again at 5:39 off a drop pass from Smith and using Shattenkirk as a screen to snap one through Allen.

And Forsberg capped off the hat trick on the power play after Ribeiro found him in the left circle for a one-timer high short side at 14:49. It's Forsberg's first four-point game of his NHL career.

Colin Wilson added a fifth goal at 4:37 of the third period against Copley.

"Puck management through the neutral zone really hurt us, lack of discipline on the penalties really hurt us ... those are the two commonalities," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We didn't do it against the Rangers, but we did it against San Jose and we did it again tonight, so it's something we have to address.

"Can't keep taking these penalties. We're killing our PK guys. They've got no energy to play on offense. We don't have the energy to play offensively in the (offensive) zone when we do it get it fresh five on five. We're dead from killing penalties."

One of those penalties came when David Backes got whistled for roughing against Ryan Ellis after Ellis' cross-check on Jaden Schwartz in the second period went unpunished.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (right) makes a save of a Magnus Paajarvi
redirection en route to a 28-save shutout in a 5-0 victory.

"I'll bite my tongue so I don't have financial repercussions," Backes said. "But that was a heck of shift for us, we were building momentum, and we go from a great offensive shift to now we're killing a penalty. I don't know if it was well-deserved.

"We need safety first out there, and we're going to stand up for each other. I felt there was a liberty taken there and at worst you think it's going to be evened up (penalty-wise), but again we're killing a penalty."

The Blues finished the game having to kill five penalties to Nashville's one.

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