NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 17: Patrik Berglund #21 of the St Louis Blues takes a shot past Matt Halischuk #24 of the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on December 17, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Blues At Predators: Pekka Rinne Remains Unsolvable; Blues Lose 3-1

Don't expect this to be a high scoring affair. The Predators have won the first three meetings, but all of those are one-goal wins. The last two games ended in a 2-1 Predators shootout victory. If the Blues want to stay in second place, they'll need to reverse that trend.

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Blues At Predators Final Score: Tight Goaltending Leads To A 3-1 Loss

Pekka Rinne knows how to shut down the Blues. The Nashville goaltender faced 42 shots tonight; coupled with the 40 shots on goal the last time the Blues were in Nashville that makes 2 goals on 82 shots. That’s amazing. You have to give Rinne his dues; he is one of the league’s elite goaltenders and deserves far more praise than he gets from the pundits in the know.

The Blues’ elite goaltender did well, not allowing any goals over the last two periods (the Preds third goal, scored by Sergei Kostitsyn, was an empty netter), while Rinne showed that he was human and actually allowed this unassisted shot by Chris Porter past him:

Aside from that, Rinne did nothing else to confirm that he is more man than machine. Quite frankly, if given a choice for a first round match-up between the Predators and the Red Wings, I’d choose Detroit. At least they can be scored upon. Nashville? That’s debatable.

The Blues head up to Ottawa for their next road game on Tuesday to square off a Senators team that’s been making a surprising run of things. Craig Anderson is no Pekka Rinne. God willing, the Blues’ll be able to get more than one puck past him.

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Blues At Predators Second Period Score: Blues Keep Preds Off Scoreboard

There’s some good news and some bad news about the second period. The good news is that the Nashville Predators did not score once in that period. The bad news is twofold — neither did the Blues, and they wound up getting outshot 17-7 in that period. Poor faceoff attempts and an inability to clear the puck did the Blues no favors at all, though a slightly (slightly) increased physicality helped a bit.

Speaking of physicality, the highlight of the period was this fight between Brian McGratton and Ryan Reaves:

You have to admit, McGratton’s fists seemed to be set on hyperdrive there. Cut over the eye notwithstanding, he handled the smaller Reaves very well.

How to get three goals in the third period? Shoot the darn puck, win a faceoff or two, and hope and pray Pekka Rinne suddenly forgets how to tend goal. The Blues might have to save some face in Ottawa on Tuesday night after this one.

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Blues At Predators First Period Score: Blues Find Themselves In Early 2-0 Hole

Tonight’s game should be a lesson for the Blues’ offense: you can’t outshoot your opponent and expect to win. A lesson for the defense applies here too: clear the puck or limit second chances. So far, it’s not sinking in. The Blues lead 16-14 in shots on goal, but the Predators are up 2-0 in this important Central Division battle.

The first goal came at 6:59 of the period with a Martin Erat slapper:

Good luck stopping that one. In all seriousness, the Predators run a powerplay the way that the Blues should — and could — do so. Nashville’s second in the NHL on PP% for a reason, and the fluid puck movement and quick adaptation in that sequence showed exactly why.

The other Nashville goal was a clearing issue coupled with some serious lack of awareness of the puck’s location. Mike Fisher potted the Predators’ second goal five and a half minutes after Erat’s:

You can see that the puck was at the feet of Alex Pietrangelo, but in a rare defensive mistake he wasn’t exactly aware of the position of it. Of course, this could’ve been fixed by not allowing so many chances. That’s where the Preds succeed; they rarely allow first chances on Pekka Rinne, let alone second and third. You have to shut the other team down.

Here’s hoping that the Blues figure out how in the world to do that during the first intermission. This could be a long evening otherwise.

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Blues At Predators: Division Rivals In A Playoff Race Square Off

Don't expect this to be a high scoring affair. The Predators have won the first three meetings, but all of those are one-goal wins. The last two games ended in a 2-1 Predators shootout victory. If the Blues want to stay in second place, they'll need to reverse that trend.

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