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Nashville Predators

Predators vs. Blues Plus/Minus: Saros Lights-Out, Forsberg Ties Franchise Record



Photo of Juuse Saros by David Russell for Nashville Hockey Now

In their biggest game of the season, the Nashville Predators held off a scrappy St. Louis Blues team, taking a 6-3 win Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena.

Roman Josi notched his 20th goal of the year, becoming just the second Predators defenseman with multiple 20-goal seasons (Shea Weber was the other). Anthony Beauvillier scored his first in a Predators uniform and Filip Forsberg recorded his 10th multi-goal game of the season, tying Matt Duchene’s single-season record for goals scored (43).

With every game you take the good with the bad, so here’s what went right and what didn’t during the Predators win over the Blues on Thursday.

(+) Juuse Saros was on his A-game

The Predators were outshot 47 to 31, and seven Blues skaters logged three or more shots on goal, but Saros stopped a good amount of what was thrown his way. His puck tracking, lateral movement and positioning were as sharp as they’ve been in a while, and he made more than a handful of head-turning saves. Saros finished with a season-high 44 saves on 47 shots (.936 save percentage).

It wasn’t just that St. Louis teed-off on Saros, it did so from close range. Fifteen of the team’s shots came from within three feet of the crease, and 22 came from between the faceoff dots. The Blues finished with 17 high-danger chances for but they had zero high-danger goals, and Saros was the reason Nashville’s losing streak didn’t reach four games.


(-) Predators were out-paced and outplayed all game

Aside from the scoresheet, the Blues dominated the Predators in pretty much every facet of the game. In the first period alone, they bested them in shots (20 to 10), hits (11 to 7) and expected goals for (2.37 to 0.69). The Predators also finished with 10 giveaways, seven of which came in their defensive zone.

They were sloppy through the first 40 minutes, and despite taking an early lead in the second period, it felt like they were playing catch-up with the Blues the entire time. St. Louis was clearly the faster, more physical team for much of the game, and if not for Saros standing on his head, Nashville could’ve easily lost 6-3 instead of winning 6-3.

(+) The power play answered the challenge

After a disastrous 0-for-4 performance (with just three total shots on goal) in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins, Nashville’s power play took a lot of heat. Head coach Andrew Brunette said the team was too slow on the man advantage, which has been the team’s issue all season.

Against St. Louis, however, the Predators PP went 2-for-3, using more speed and angular passes to set up prime scoring chances. It was exactly the kind of response Brunette was looking for after challenging his players two nights prior.



(+) Aggressive penalty kill

The Predators entered Thursday’s game with the 26th-ranked penalty kill in the NHL, but you couldn’t tell from the clinic they put on in St. Louis’ four power-play opportunities. Instead of sitting back and reacting and letting the Blues dictate the pace of play, Nashville’s penalty killers were aggressive, they were physical and they were all over the puck.

The third and fourth penalty kills in particular were a blueprint for shorthanded success. The Predators smothered anyone who touched the puck, sealed off shooting angles and made it difficult to fire off any shots. Though they did allow a power-play goal late in the third period, the Predators PK unit went 5-for-6 and limited the Blues to just 1.5 shots per PP opportunity.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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