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Late Push Not Enough as Preds Fall to Blues

Mattias Ekholm #42 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Johansen found the back of the net for Nashville, but it wasn’t enough as the Predators fell to the St. Louis Blues by a 3-2 final on Saturday afternoon at the Enterprise Center.

The first half of the home-and-home set saw the Blues put forth a better effort than the Preds to start, and although Nashville made a push in the third, it couldn’t erase the game’s first 40 minutes.

“Not good,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of the game. “They were faster. We didn’t play the game fast enough, didn’t have enough attitude in the game, and not enough guys on the rope either. It just wasn’t good; wasn’t a good day.”

“The effort in the first two periods was not good enough,” Ekholm said. “They were dicating the play, they were all over us… Tomorrow, we need more like we played in the third. I thought we stepped it up a little bit and we were more on the attack. We were skating harder, we were more physical, and that’s something that we need to do more tomorrow.”

The Blues were up 2-0 after 20 minutes courtesy of goals from Vince Dunn and Vladimir Tarasenko, and it was a chippy first period that saw Cody McLeod drop the gloves with Pat Maroon in the early going.

In the second, Ekholm got one past the red-hot Jordan Binnington on the power play to get the Preds on the board, but just a few minutes later, Mackenzie MacEachern gave the Blues their two-goal lead back.

Nashville pushed in the third, and Johansen scored with an extra attacker with 75 seconds to play, but that was as close as the visitors got to salvaging a point on the day.

“We gave ourselves a chance,” Johansen said of the third period. “[Pekka Rinne] kept us in that game for the first 40 minutes, but we just weren’t good enough, and especially the way the Blues have been playing lately… The good thing is we are right back at it tomorrow with the same team, and the work we brought in the third is what we need tomorrow for the whole game.”

It’s been said before that one of the best aspects of the NHL is if you don’t like your effort in a particular game, you don’t have to wait too long for a chance at redemption. In this case, the Predators have another go in less than 24 hours with an 11:30 a.m. (CT) puck drop on Sunday in Nashville.

“It’s really awesome, to be honest,” Ekholm said. “This one stings, it’s a Central Division loss so to be able to get the chance to get them back tomorrow is obviously something that we’re looking forward to.”

Notes:

Yannick Weber, Rocco Grimaldi and Frederick Gaudreau were scratched for the Preds on Saturday.

The Preds and Blues will be right back at it on Sunday for an 11:30 a.m. start from Bridgestone Arena. That begins another three-game homestand for the Predators with visits from Detroit and Montreal coming later in the week.