ST. LOUIS – Marcel Goc was due. So were the Nashville Predators.
After scoring only once in five previous shootout attempts, Goc beat Jaroslav Halak with a nifty forehand goal in the fourth round to give Nashville a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night. With the goal, the Predators snapped a five-game losing streak.
Goc deked to the backhand, pulled the puck back to his forehand and beat Halak.
“We’ve struggled getting points here the last five games and today we found a way,” Goc said. “We new they were going to come hard at us after last night’s game it’s always tough to play them. We got a little bit of momentum going into the shootout and (Pekka Rinne) was there again when we needed him.”
Cal O’Reilly also scored in the shootout for the Predators, O’Reilly and J.P. Dumont connected in regulation and Rinne stopped 21 shots.
“We hadn’t won in a while, so you know your always wondering if you have much confidence,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought we did a really good job. … (We’re) fortunate to win it in the shootout so will take the win. It’s never easy for us and it hasn’t been in this last little while.”
Rinne added, “It was a huge win. We had a tough stretch with five losses in a row. We were really focusing on losing this skid. We played a strong game.”
The Blues, who have dropped two straight after winning seven in a row, got a shootout goal from Matt D’Agostini and regulation goals from D’Agostini and David Backes. Halak stopped 24 shots.
St. Louis, playing without six injured regulars, dropped to 6-0-1 at home this season with a the loss that snapped a 12-game winning streak on home ice.
The Blues were a much happier group despite the loss on this night. They were thoroughly beaten 24 hours earlier in Columbus in an 8-1 drubbing.
“We got our game to the right place tonight,” Blues coach Davis Payne said. “I think we were much quicker through the neutral zone but most importantly, we handled their forecheck early. When you play against Nashville, a real strong forechecking team, we had to make a difference back there. … I thought it wasa big key for our club to handle what we didn’t handle (Wednesday) night.”
Backes opened the scoring for the Blues with 1:38 left in the first period. Andy McDonald’s initial shot was stopped by Rinne, but Backes rammed home the rebound from the right side of the circle after a hard hit by Nashville’s Steve Sullivan.
The Predators had the better of the play in the second period, outshooting the Blues 10-3 and picking up the equalizer from O’Reilly 13:44 into the period. O’Reilly was on the doorstep and banged home Francis Bouillon’s rebound shot that Halak stopped.
D’Agostini made it 2-1 with his team-leading sixth goal of the season, scoring 5:54 into the final period on the Blues’ first shot of the period. Patrik Berglund led D’Agostini streaking down the left side as teams were playing 4-on-4 and D’Agostini beat Rinne with a shot through the pads.
Dumont tied it with 6:52 to play when he backhanded a shot over Halak’s right shoulder after David Legwand’s shot off the end boards came out the other side of the net.
The Blues had an opportunity to win the game in overtime, but their power play, a futile 0 for 25 in the last six games and 3 for 42 since Oct. 16, could not convert with 1:19 worth of 4-on-3 ice time despite Payne calling a timeout to set up plays.
“We’re talking about what plays we wanted to run, to set up where we feel we can go,” Payne said. “The disappointing part is we didn’t execute any part of that. We’ll certainly have to address the execution or the personnel in those situations.”
NOTES: The Predators were without C Matthew Lomardi (concussion), RW Martin Erat (upper-body) and D Ryan Suter (knee). The Blues were without defencemen Roman Polak (wrist), Barret Jackman (knee) and Carlo Colaiacovo (concussion) along with forwards David Perron (concussion), Brad Winchester (knee) and T.J. Oshie (broken ankle). … This was the third meeting between the Central Division rivals already. They split the first two, with Nashville winning 4-3 Oct. 14 and the Blues winning 3-0 on Oct. 28, both in Nashville. … Sullivan has 50 career points in 59 games against the Blues, his best output against any opponent. … The Predators werescoreless against the Blues for 117:18 before O’Reilly’s goal.