NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jaroslav Halak made it look easy—at the Nashville Predators expense.
Halak made 24 saves for his second straight shutout and 11th in the NHL, and the St. Louis Blues beat Nashville 3-0 on Thursday night, handing the Predators their first regulation loss of the season.
“He is such a fun goalie to watch,” Blues defenceman Erik Johnson said. “He looks like he is not even trying. He is so effortless in his motion. There is no wasted energy with him.
“We feel so confident with him back there because he’s so cool, calm and collected. We know we can go on offence and he’ll be back there if we have any hiccups. He has been a great, great asset for us.”
Halak, acquired in the off-season from Montreal after helping lead the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals, was coming off a 1-0 overtime win over Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
“It feels great, but I didn’t come into the game thinking about the last shutout,” Halak said. “I was just thinking about trying to help the guys win the game. It is even more special when it is a shutout.”
The Blues didn’t make it easy for Halak in the first two periods.
“I thought the first period was an even period for both teams,” St. Louis coach Davis Payne said. “Both teams were pretty steady and not willing to give up too much. But I thought we had some point blank turnovers that Jaroslav had to stop.
“In the second period each team traded chances. Although we had some chances at our net I think we fed a little bit of their offensive play with some sloppy puck touches. Jaroslav was obviously real big and real firm and kept everything out. He earned that game for us in the second period. He gave us a chance in the third.”
Alexander Steen, Patrik Berglund and Matt D’Agostini scored.
Heading into the game, the Predators had dropped three games in a row at home, all in overtime. They had won their last five meetings with St. Louis. Payne wasn’t worried about the Predators’ wins and losses. He was more interested in what his team was going to do.
“We don’t look that much at who we are playing, but we do look at the standard we have set for ourselves and how we are playing,” Payne said. “We feel like we have got the talent. We feel like we have the defensive ability, the leadership and the team play that is going to get it done for us. We don’t ask about the schedule or travel. We just ask if we have met our standard.”
Steen opened the scoring with a short-handed goal with 7:04 left in the second period. David Perron skated from behind the net and hit Steen with a pass. Steen scored on a wrist shot from in front of the crease, beating Pekka Rinne to his stick side. It was Steen’s first goal of the season.
With 7:12 remaining in the game, Berglund scored off of a rebound that bounced off of Rinne’s pads and into the slot.
Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo was given a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct with 6:49 left to play in the third period. He tangled with Carlo Colaiacovo behind the Blues net.
“My understanding is that it was a blow to the head, but if you look at the replay it looks like it’s shoulder-on-shoulder,” Tootoo said. “It’s a tough league that we play in.
“You’ve got to keep your head up out there. I think the bottom line is that when you hit someone hard, obviously the refs are going to take a second look at it.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz also thought it was a shoulder-to-shoulder check. He added that he never saw Tootoo leave his feet. Payne refused to comment on the play by Tootoo.
D’Agostini scored on the power play with 4:45 left, beating Rinne from close range.
“There is no pullback in our game,” Payne said. “It is all designed with the intent to put ourselves in a good position to manage the game correctly and to manage the puck correctly. “I thought the third period was real solid in that aspect. We are willing to attack the net, but we are also to return to our zone as five guys.”
NOTES: The Predators were perfect on the penalty kill in their previous four games. … Tyson Strachan played his second game for the Blues this season, replacing Roman Polak. Polak had surgery on his wrist earlier in the day.He’s sidelined indefinitely.