The Nashville Predators entered the second half of that straight game after a win last night that nonetheless added Alexandre Carrier to the roster. The Blues de Saint-Louis, no child’s play at any time and having had an excellent start to the season, were to be alternate goalkeeper David Rittich’s first test for gold.
After just a few back-and-forths and body checks, the Blues’ Michael McCarron and Dakota Joshua battled as each secured their first quarterback, and both sat in the sin bin for five minutes. It was a fight for the sake of fighting, and while McCarron won the fight, it was the Blues who seemed to be building the momentum.
Rittich was called upon to make several big saves over the next few minutes, and another Rittich save showed the tensions in the game with around nine minutes elapsed. Rittich got up to catch the puck in the air, hit Pavel Buchnevich and fell back into the paint; four skaters from Preds immediately rushed to express their disapproval of Buchnevich and had to be separated by the referees.
Jordan Kyrou drew the first blood, taking advantage of a lack of defensive coverage to secure an undisputed shot past Rittich at 12:23. The Preds tried to respond, but Jordan Binnington made the saves he was called upon to make, and the Preds struggled to shake things up anyway.
At the end of the period, Roman Josi received a late-game penalty for deflecting a puck over the glass, and Kyrou scored again to extend the Blues‘ lead to 2-0. The period ended with that again the score.
However, seconds into the second period, Matt Duchene scored to cut the deficit in half, with some nice passes between him and his teammates to set up. After this good start to the period, however, the Preds were unable to keep up the pressure and the Blues once again settled into the Preds’ defensive zone. Rittich made a few saves and some of the defenders helped him, including Mark Borowiecki, who made some good plays on his return from injury, but the overall situation was not good.
Despite that, the next goal was scored by Luke Kunin, thanks to a superb assist from – again – Matt Duchene. With the score tied again, the Preds finally started to get their legs under them, but couldn’t convert again until the momentum returned.
Mikael Granlund and Yakov Trenin had some good chances, although their line does not appear on the scoresheet. They had another at the end of the second period and yet another seconds to go, but no joy. While the rest of the play of the period favored the Blues somewhat, it was the Preds who scored both goals, leaving the teams tied 2-2 before the second intermission.
The Blues came out strong to start the third, but Rittich muffled their first volley.
A few minutes later, McCarron blocked a shot with the side of his knee and stayed on the ice. He was assisted by Mattias Ekholm and Phil Myers, along with a coach. After Alexandre Carrier’s injury last night, and especially after the Preds put Rocco Grimaldi on waivers this morning, it’s not ideal for the team – obviously not ideal for McCarron anyway.
Trenin finally capitalized on one of his chances, giving the Preds their first lead of the game with four minutes elapsed in the third period. Kyrou had pushed hard for his third; Seeing the next goal go to the Preds was both a relief and a surprise. After that it was Ryan O’Reilly with big chances and an equally important save from Rittich to cap the streak.
However, the Blues equalized the match again with a goal from Vladimir Tarasenko, as Tarasenko pushed his way through three defenders to score. The Blues kept pushing after that for a while, but then the third period shell set in. At the end of the third, Ryan Johansen almost managed to give the Preds back the lead, in a last-minute push that also included a scramble to the front of the Blues’ net and superb saves from Binnington, but the game ended in overtime.
Overtime started off with what felt like about an hour of possession for the Blues, but Duchene is once again the extra-time hero, scoring a brilliantly intelligent pass from Granlund to give the Preds the win.
The three stars of the OTF game:
3. David Rittich – objectively it might not have been the best performance, but playing behind a tired team struggling with injuries, at the end of a long road trip, and in his first real game. with this team … well under the circumstances, and did what the Preds needed him to do.
2. Matt Duchene – two goals, including the OT winner, and an assist on Kunin’s tying goal
1. Mikael Granlund – four assists, he really felt like he had achieved every goal and could easily have added a few more assists.