Coming off such an emotional win against Chicago Wednesday night one could have forgiven the Blues for maybe letting tonight's game slip away. Jake Allen had a different plan and the Blues backed up his play with a solid offensive output and overall a very sound game. Not only did more defensemen score but the power play clicked back on and it wasn't entirely because of Kevin Shattenkirk returning. But the main story tonight was Allen, who had a Carey Price type of game and likely is the Panger award winner this week.
While the Blues didn't come out flat, they definitely were a step behind the Preds early on as Jake had to make a few tough saves including a puck that squirted out into the paint where someone could have just pushed it in. The Blues first real chance came off a stretch pass to Alex Steen who went high blocker on Pekka Rinne but was denied. The play did lead to Mike Fisher taking the first penalty of the game. Off the ensuing faceoff, the Blues were able to hold the zone and Scott Gomez took a short backhand pass from Vladi and slid it to Troy Brouwer who one touched it to Colton Parayko for the early lead:
This was the second game in a row in which the Blues scored a power play goal and the last three power play goals have been scored by defensemen (Gunnarsson, Bouwmeester and Parayko). Nashville would take another penalty shortly thereafter but the Blues were unable to capitalize.
Nashville would keep peppering Allen as the period wore on but the young netminder was out challenging shooters, cutting down every angle possible and even getting some help from Mike Ribeiro who missed a wide open net. As the period wound down each team would trade odd man rushes but it was Roman Josi who got the best look as he came down on a a two on one but Allen was out on top of the paint and shut it down.
The Allen Show continued in the second as Nashville came out firing on all cylinders. Ribeiro would distribute the puck to Craig Smith who found himself alone in the slot but once again Allen was reading the play and focused on the shot. The only real chance for the Blues came from Parayko yet again as he led a two on one in on Rinne but his shot was smothered and held by the big netminder.
Nashville would continue to swarm the Blues zone for the rest of the period and Allen saw shot after shot but let none pass. Of course he would also get some help from the goalposts a few times as well. With Paajarvi in the box a shot slid past Jake and struck the post, as Allen was throwing his glove out the puck was swatted at and somehow was kept out of the net.
Brodziak would go to the box and give the Preds a 5 on 3 for a minute and twenty seconds and yet again Allen and the post would come up big. After a scramble around the net, Ribeiro would find the puck at the side of the net but slightly behind the end line. He pulled the puck back to the front of the wide open net and thought he had an easy goal but Allen somehow got a glove on it and deflected it into the post and out of harms way. In the replay you can see Ribeiro reach up and cover his face with his glove in that OH MY GOD REALLY pose.
The Blues would kill off the two man advantage and would take a 1-0 lead to the third where they were 4-0 when leading after two. Allen already had stopped 30 shots in the game and with only a one goal lead he figured to see a lot more.
If the second period belonged to Nashville, then the third was the Blues for the taking. Right off the bat James Neal would take a tripping penalty and the Blues power play went back to work. Once again the zone was set by the Blues and after more smart passing the puck found its way to another defensemen who wanted to score. This time it was Alex Pietrangelo and it would make the fourth straight power play goal scored by a defensemen:
Scott Gomez's vision is once again displayed here as he doesn't even hesitate to send that pass to Steen who one touches it to Petro. Those quick, efficient passes are what is needed to defeat Rinne and the Blues played that to perfection tonight. Exactly three minutes later the Blues would break up a Predators rush and end up with a 3 on 1 lead by Scottie Upshall. Upshall seemed to almost use the passing of previous plays to his advantage as he looked off not only the defensemen but Rinne as well until he fired the puck five hole for the 3-0 lead:
The Blues would get into penalty trouble yet again as Brouwer would go off for slashing and then Backes almost two minutes late resulting in a short 5 on 3 and seemingly a four minute man advantage. But as before, Allen stood up to the task, coming out and challenging shots and his defense did well to keep most of the shots from the outside. Even with Nashville putting more and more shots on net, Jake just got stronger as the game went on and as the pressure mounted for them to score a goal it inevitably gave the Blues another opportunity to score.
Tarasenko would lead another odd man rush down into the Nashville zone but he would hold on to the puck slightly too long and his pass to Jori Lehtera was intercepted. But in true Vladi style, he hounded the puck carrier and retrieved the puck, fired a shot that was blocked and gathered his own rebound. With Rinne squaring for him to shoot again, he slid the puck to Steen who buried it for the fourth goal of the night.
Safely ahead the Blues tightened up in their zone and did allow more shots on Allen but Nashville started getting desperate and most of the shots were hastily thrown on and even more missed the net. In the end Jake Allen was just too much and he posts his 7th career shut out in his first start in Nashville. Needless to say he probably won't mind playing in that arena again.
The Blues have now won back to back games, have power play goals in each of them and are starting to get healthy again as Shattenkirk returned and Elliott served as the back up. They next travel to New Jersey to face the Devils before wrapping up the four game trip against the Rangers. Look for Allen to be back in net once again on Tuesday night.
#3 - Jake Allen: 7th Career Shutout
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