NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Given the recent history between the two teams, the winner and the scoring margin were pretty predictable.
Steve Sullivan scored two goals and the Nashville Predators beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Thursday night to improve to 3-0 for the second time in franchise history.
Dating to last season, the Predators have beaten the Blues five consecutive times, with all five games decided by one goal. The Predators also ended the Blues’ season-opening winning streak at two games.
Marcel Goc and Patric Hornqvist also scored, and rookie Anders Lindback made 32 saves for Nashville, coming off a 3-2 victory in Chicago on Wednesday night.
“I was really concerned,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “I saw St. Louis on a lot of films and thought that they had a lot of detail in their game and they were really playing with a lot of pace. It was a great test for us and our guys responded really well.”
Matt D’Agostini, T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund scored for St. Louis.
Goc opened the scoring 56 seconds into the opening period with a wrist shot from the low slot, and Sullivan made it 2-0 on two-man advantage at 11:14 of the first.
With the Blues’ Brad Boyes and Eric Brewer both in the penalty box, the Predators had their first 5-on-3 power play of the season. Nashville defenceman Ryan Suter faked a shot from the top of the right circle then passed to Sullivan all alone in the lower left circle where he buried a one-timer into an open net.
“It was just a great pass by Ryan Suter,” Sullivan said. “He just kind of froze everybody with the fake shot.”
After D’Agostini drew the Blues within one at 13:37 of the first, Sullivan answered 15 seconds later.
“I don’t think we brought enough attention to the first period,” Blues coach Davis Payne said. “We were slow to react, we were slow to move our feet, and we took two penalties based on not moving our feet.”
Cal O’Reilly freed the puck in the right corner of the St. Louis zone and found Sullivan in the right circle where he unleashed another one-timer by goalie Jaroslav Halak.
It was Sullivan’s fourth goal on the season. He didn’t score his fourth goal last season until Nov. 14.
Sullivan had an opportunity for his eighth career hat trick in the waning seconds of the first, but Halak stretched out his right leg pad to stop the breakaway attempt with two seconds remaining.
“I didn’t score and they stayed in the hockey game for the most part,” Sullivan said. “That’s the most disappointing part. Hat tricks are great when they come, but the wins are more important.”
Oshie scored an unassisted power-play goal at 8:15 of the second, but Hornqvist answered that with a power-play marker of his own at 16:21 to send the Predators into the second intermission up 4-2.
“My goal kind of sparked us a little bit and they got one right back,” Oshie said. “One of our key things that we are working on this year is winning the battles every night, and I don’t think we did that in the first.”
Berglund’s power-play goal at 5:13 of the third completed the scoring.
Playing in place of injured starter Pekka Rinne, Lindback has made the transition well to his first season in North America, stopping 62 of the 67 shots he has faced this season.
“Of course it is only just two games, but I am learning as I am doing it,” the 6’6″ Swede said. “I’m having fun out there. I’m trying to get as much experience as I can.”
NOTES: Nashville C Matthew Lombardi missed the game because of an upper-body injury. He is listed as day-to-day. … Sullivan has 49 career points against the Blues, his highest against any opponent. … Lindback has victories in each of his two NHL starts. … St. Louis C Alex Steen had an assist for his 200th NHL point.