NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Chris Mason’s return to Nashville turned into one of the best games of his career.
Playing in front of a Predators home crowd for the first time since being traded to the St. Louis Blues in June, Mason earned his first shutout of the season. He stopped 47 shots through overtime and then stopped Rich Peverley and Ville Koistinen in the shootout to give the Blues a 1-0 win Tuesday night.
It was the first time the Predators had been shutout at home since Jan. 13, 2004, a span of 148 games. The last time it happened, the Predators skated off with a 0-0 tie against Los Angeles with Mason in goal.
This marked the most shots the Predators have recorded in a game without scoring.
“It was a good night,” said Mason, who spent parts of six seasons with the Predators. “This is definitely one of the top games in my career, so far. I was with Nashville for so long. It was just crazy.”
Mason gave a lot of credit to his teammates.
“The guys blocked about a million shots, too,” he said. “There were a lot of scrambles in front of the net and they cleared the pucks out. We got two points, and we battled our way to get them.”
Mason earned the 13th shutout of his NHL career. He outduelled Nashville’s Dan Ellis, who also posted his first blanking with a 17-save effort but allowed shootout goals to Dave Perron and Brad Boyes.
It was the seventh career shutout for Ellis. Both players beat him in the shootout with identical moves.
“When you can come down and sell the shot, then make a hard fake, bring it back the other way and then tuck it in, it’s a tricky move to stop,” Ellis said. “I just missed them both by a hair.”
Mason had dinner with Predators defenceman Shea Weber on Monday night, and admitted to feeling strange during pre-game warmups.
“Maybe 10 minutes into the game I started to settle down and feel like, ‘Let’s just play some hockey,”‘ he said. “I finally started to feel normal, I guess.”
The 30-shot advantage for the Predators was the largest in franchise history.
Predators coach Barry Trotz was happy with everything about the game except the result.
“I thought it was arguably our best game,” he said. “We came out and did what we wanted to do. We had at least 35 scoring chances. We shut down the second-best power play in the NHL. We showed a lot of patience and maturity. We just needed one to go in and we had plenty of opportunities to do that.”
Trotz also was glad to see Mason put in a strong performance, even if it did cost the Predators a point.
“There is no doubt that Chris was the first star of the game,” Trotz said. “Anytime you get moved from a team and come back to play them there is extra motivation. He loved it here. He didn’t want to move. He was a big part of our success.”
Mason was also sharp in killing off Barret Jackman’s tripping penalty in overtime.
Jackman was sent off just 43 seconds into the extra session after he dragged down Martin Erat. The Predators kept the puck in the St. Louis zone for much of the advantage, but couldn’t get any of their five shots past Mason. Nashville also hit the post with two other drives during the power play.
“Chris never quit on any of his saves and we threw everything but the kitchen sink at him,” said Ellis, who made his ninth straight start. “I think we did throw the kitchen sink, too, and he stopped that.”
Nashville outshot St. Louis 11-3 in the third period and 9-1 in overtime.
“We can play a lot better than we did,” St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. “We did not have as many shots, but we did have some good chances. I thought our team would be hungry for Mason to get a win. You can say that winning 1-0 on the road is a pretty good feeling.”
Notes: The Predators have outshot opponents in four straight games after doing that only twice in their 10 previous games. … The Blues played for the first time since trading RW Lee Stempniak to Toronto on Monday. … LW Antti Pihlstrom played in his first game of the season for the Predators and the second of his career.