outlast Blues to take 3-1 series lead
Send a link to a friend
[May 03, 2017]
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In many
ways, the St. Louis Blues did what they wanted to do Tuesday night
in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal against the
They played the body to the tune of 33 hits, gummed up the neutral
zone and put more shots on net than Nashville for the first time in
However, Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, the red-hot Ryan Ellis and an
absolute laser from James Neal rendered all those efforts useless.
Rinne's 32 saves, plus goals from Ellis and Neal almost eight
minutes apart in the third period, led the Predators to a 2-1 win at
raucous Bridgestone Arena, giving Nashville a 3-1 series lead.
In upping its playoff record to 7-1, Nashville moved into position
to clinch the best-of-seven series Friday night in Game 5 at
Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Predators are attempting to reach
the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
"I don't think anyone's looking past the next game," Predators
defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "We know they will come out hard
with their lives on the line. We want to put on a great
If the Predators need an example, they only have to look at Rinne
and Ellis. Playing probably his best game of the series, Rinne was
sharp from the get-go. He denied Vladimir Tarasenko twice on
point-blank looks from the high slot before the midway point of the
Rinne then turned aside five shots during the Blues' first power
play that bridged the second and third periods. His best save might
have been a glove stop on Alex Pietrangelo's wrister late in the man
After Rinne kept Nashville from ceding the first goal, the Predators
appeared to get a break when the teams scrummed in front of the home
bench early in the third period of a scoreless game. With players
from both teams firing punches, the referees assessed roughing
minors to Joel Edmundson and Ryan Reaves of St. Louis, along with
Cody McLeod of Nashville.
That led to a power play as Blues coach Mike Yeo screamed at referee
Dan O'Rourke. Yeo would be no happier after Ellis pounced on the
rebound of a Colin Wilson shot and wired a wrister past Jake Allen
Ellis scored his fourth goal of the playoffs, and he tallied a point
for the seventh straight game, tying Wilson's playoff franchise
record set a year ago. It also made Ellis the first defenseman with
a seven-game point streak in the playoffs since Chris Pronger and
Jason Woolley did it in 1998.
"You do whatever it takes," Ellis said. "It's about throwing pucks
at the net. You never know what will happen."
Yeo accused the Predators of earning calls via a steady discourse
with the officials.
"Every stoppage, they're yelling at the refs," he said. "They're
talking to the refs ... it's been that way all series."
[to top of second column]
Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) reacts as Nashville Predators center
Mike Fisher (12) and left wing Colin Wilson (33) celebrate following
a goal by Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (not pictured)
in game four of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at
Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA
Kay Whitmore, the officiating supervisor assigned to
the series by the NHL, termed the penalties assessed to Edmundson
and Reaves a judgment call. Whitmore declined further comment.
Neal supplied the eventual game-winner when he won a puck near the
top of the right circle, spun and ripped a wrister over Allen's
stick side at 13:03 for his second tally of the postseason.
"I got my stick on it and just tried to put it on net," Neal said.
Edmundson gave St. Louis hope with a one-timer from the left circle
at 16:11, his third goal of the playoffs.
The Blues pulled Allen with 2:43 left and came agonizingly close to
equalizing with 1:08 remaining, but Paul Stastny couldn't corral a
loose puck at the left post with an empty net staring at him.
Allen enjoyed another good game, saving 23 of 25 shots and coming up
with a bunch of big stops. Neal could have initiated the scoring
shortly after Pietrangelo's point-blank chance as he got to a
rebound, but Allen stretched out his left toe and kicked the puck
However, Rinne, Ellis and Nashville pushed St. Louis to the cliff's
"They played a good game," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said of
the Blues. "It was tight. Chances were hard to come by. But our guys
have confidence and a good belief in the room."
NOTES: St. Louis made lineup changes, inserting LW Magnus Paajarvi
and LW Zach Sanford while scratching C Ivan Barbashev and C Kyle
Brodziak. ... Nashville recalled C Frederick Gaudreau along with D
Alexandre Carrier, D Jack Dougherty, D Petter Granberg and D Trevor
Murphy from AHL Milwaukee. All were scratched for the game. ...
Other Blues scratches were RW Dmitrij Jaskin, D Luke Schmaltz, G
Luke Opilka and RW Nail Yakupov. ... The Predators also scratched D
Anthony Bitetto, RW PA Parenteau, RW Craig Smith (injury), D Brad
Hunt, LW Pontus Aberg, LW Vernon Fiddler and G Marek Mazanec.
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten