This series is going to be a war. Last night the Nashville Predators outlasted the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in Game 1. Vernon Fiddler got the game winner with just over 5 minutes remaining, after the Blues had erased a two goal deficit in the 3rd. P.K. Subban (1g, 2a) was fully engaged last night. That was the player we thought we were getting when the trade was made in the offseason.
St. Louis started the game with all the energy. They were using their size to hem the Preds in their own end. Subban took a slashing penalty at 2:48 of the period. Nashville killed it off and that seemed to settle the Preds down a bit. Both goalies were very solid early on, but the Preds would break through 1st on a power play of their own. Colin Wilson made an immediate impact in his 1st game of the 2017 playoffs by tipping in a shot from Subban for a 1-0 lead. Wilson would miss on a chance to give the Preds a 2-0 lead a few minutes later.
Nashville continued putting on pressure early in the 2nd, then the game came to a
screeching halt. Kevin Fiala was heading behind the net, engaged with Robert Bortuzzo. As the two were going for the puck Fiala lost an edge and, with Bortuzzo on top of him, went awkwardly into the boards skates first. Fiala would be stretchered off the ice and taken to the hospital. Both teams appeared to be affected by the injury, you could see all the players were intently watching as they worked on Fiala. A 17 minute delay would ensue because the only ambulance at the arena was taking Fiala to the hospital and they had to wait for another to arrive.
There is always a shaky time after a long delay like this, especially for the goalies. Which goalie would struggle coming out of this break? Turns out it was Jake Allen that blinked first. Just 35 seconds after the delay Subban hammered home is 1st of the playoffs to put the Preds up 2-0. St. Louis would bounce back about 6 minutes later, on a great move from Colton Parayko. Then the Blues would take a small parade to the penalty box, taking back to back penalties and the Preds would capitalize to go up 3-1. The goal again went through Subban as his blast rebounded off Allen, then Filip Forsberg and then into the net.
The 3rd period took on a very different feel. There was a combination of things at play in causing this change. The Blues began to push and get their cycle game going and the Predators seemed to back off the attack a little too much and defend. The one thing you cannot do is let the Blues cycle you, they will wear you out if you do. Once, the Preds backed off, they could not get it going the other way again. The Blues would score 2 goals in just over 2 minutes, to tie the game up before the half mark of the period. All the momentum was with St. Louis at this point. Then, with just over 5 minutes to go, Austin Watson would win a board battle. Watson forced the puck toward the goal and as Allen stretched out to knock it away, Vern Fiddler would beat him to it and poke it between his legs for the lead and the win.
This was a hard fought, character win for Nashville. However, they should learn a lesson here, they cannot back off the Blues. They must keep playing their game or St. Louis will run them into the ground in their own zone.
Game 2 is Friday night in St. Louis at 7pm CT.
Follow me on Twitter at danieljones@dj_puckplanet