ST. LOUIS – T.J. Oshie’s dazzling goal and Jaroslav Halak’s seventh shutout gave the St. Louis Blues a positive finish to another lost season. It helped that they caught the Nashville Predators exhaling a night after clinching a playoff spot.
Halak shut out Nashville for the third time this season and Oshie scored from his knees early in the second period to lead the Blues to a 2-0 win over the Predators on Saturday night.
“Definitely went out with a bang,” Oshie said.
One night after clinching its sixth playoff spot in seven seasons under coach Barry Trotz, Nashville was outplayed much of the way. Pekka Rinne made 24 saves for the Predators, who finished in a three-way tie with 99 points and must wait until Chicago plays on Sunday to find out their seeding.
“It wasn’t our best effort,” Predators centre Mike Fisher said. “We played a little bit better in the third and pushed a little bit, but give them credit they played pretty well.
“We just didn’t quite have our A-game tonight.”
Good reason for that.
“It’s been a real emotional ride the last two months,” Trotz said. “A little disappointed we didn’t get it but at the same time a new season.”
Backes made an impressive play on Oshie’s goal after spinning away from two defenders and finished at plus-32, by far the best on the team. He totalled 16 points in the last 17 games.
“I’ve said that’s a bad stat in the past because it doesn’t show much,” Backes said. “I suppose it’s a great stat. You don’t get a number like that if you’re not with guys who are willing to dedicate themselves to the defensive side.”
Halak stopped 24 shots for his seventh shutout, and also blanked Nashville on Dec. 26 at home and Oct. 28 on the road. The Predators went scoreless in their last 126 minutes and 52 seconds playing in St. Louis.
Alex Steen scored his 100th career goal with 49 seconds to go to clinch it for the Blues, who finished 24-15-5 at home. St. Louis missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons but won three of its last four games.
Backes made a nice move to get free, spinning away from the defence before hitting Oshie sliding on his knees in front of the net. Oshie faked a forehand to get Rinne out of position, then pushed in a backhander for his 12th goal at 5:20 of the second.
Notes: Predators F Steve Sullivan was scratched a day after his first game returning from a groin injury sustained Feb. 24. … Rinne had 33 victories, one shy of tying Tomas Vokoun (2003-04) for second-most in franchise history. … Backes is one of four players with 25 goals and 200 hits, along with Alex Ovechkin, Dustin Brown and Brenden Morrow.