NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators cut it about as close as possible.
Jason Arnott tied it with three seconds left in regulation, and Steve Sullivan scored the only goal in a shootout to give Nashville a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Sullivan, playing in his 14th game of the season after nearly a two-year layoff due to a back injury, beat Chris Mason with a wrister low to the glove side.
“I’ve been talking to my linemates and coaches, and it is not my production on the score sheet, it’s my ability to continue to make progress every game,” Sullivan said. “I don’t have too many shootout moves, so I am glad I was able to sneak one by him.”
Predators goalie Pekka Rinne stopped Brad Boyes, Andy McDonald and T.J. Oshie in the shootout. The six-foot-five goalie is perfect in his two NHL shootouts, stopping all six shooters he has faced.
“You try to be patient because every team uses really skilled guys so you wait for a deke rather than a shot,” Rinne said. “I tried to read the players and I tried to be patient. I feel lucky.”
The loss was St. Louis’ second in a row. In both losses, the Blues allowed two-goal leads to slip away.
“We have to be able to close games out better,” St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. “You have expectations that guys will get the job done.”
With the Blues leading 3-2 in the final seconds of the third period and Rinne off for an extra attacker, David Legwand slid a pass from the left side to the front of the goal. Arnott was able to connect with his backhand and beat Mason on the stick side.
“Most of the time when you are out there, you just try to stay as loose as possible and stay away from their defenders,” Arnott said. “We had enough guys out on the other side, and the puck just popped out, I took a whack at it, and it went in.”
“I know Predators hockey, and I’ve seen a lot of games like that where they are down in the third period,” Mason said. “They really worked hard in the third period and put the puck in the goal.”
Mason, who the Blues acquired from Nashville in June, had won his only previous game against his former team November 25 when he stopped 47 shots and three shootout attempts to lead the Blues to a 1-0 victory.
Defencemen Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Klein added goals for Nashville.
“It was a good character win,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “St. Louis is a hard team to come back on. They check pretty well, and they have good goaltending.”
David Backes, David Perron and Brad Winchester scored in regulation for St. Louis, and Boyes had two assists.
Notes: Arnott extended his season-high point scoring streak to six games. … Boyes played in his 300th career NHL game. … The teams will meet twice more over the next nine days. … Nine of St. Louis’ 23 wins on the season have come against fellow Central Division opponents.