Sat, Apr 1, 2023 1:43 PM
By JIM DIAMOND, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tommy Novak scored a goal and added three assists to lead the Nashville Predators over the St. Louis Blues 6-1 on Saturday.
Luke Evangelista had a goal and two assists; Cody Glass and Colton Sissons also scored; and Juuse Saros made 21 saves for the Predators, winners of two of three.
Nashville kept its slim playoff hopes alive, now three points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the Western Conference’s second wild-card berth. The Predators have played one fewer game than Winnipeg.
“Tonight was a big game for us. Winnipeg won last night, so this was a big one for us to be able to cut it back to three,” Predators coach John Hynes said.
Calle Rosen scored and Thomas Greiss made 29 saves for the Blues. St. Louis had won four of five, but the loss places the Blues on the brink of mathematical elimination from the playoffs.
Nashville came out fast, scoring twice on its first five shots in the opening period.
“That wasn’t a great game, right from the get-go,” St. Louis coach Craig Berube said. “Second period we had some opportunities on the power play, did some good things, but other than that, it was not very good.”
Novak struck first at 4:46 with a nifty backhand from the low slot that rattled off of the crossbar and into the net. Glass, celebrating his 24th birthday, followed at 7:20 when he redirected a Novak shot past Greiss with the Predators on a power play.
“Getting that early lead was really big for us because we have been struggling to score goals (the) last little stretch here,” Novak said. "So just to feel that puck going in, and getting one on the power play was also huge.”
Sissons scored an unassisted shorthanded goal at 7:36 of the second, breaking down the right side before snapping off a wrist shot that beat Greiss on the far side. Evangelista’s goal at 13:27 sent the Predators into the second intermission up 4-0.
Rosen spoiled Saros’ shutout bid at 8:36 of the third with a long-range wrist shot through traffic. Trenin scored an unassisted goal at 11:49 and Tomasino, playing his 100th career game, notched a power-play goal at 18:06.
The Blues’ struggling penalty kill went 2-4 Saturday. In their previous three games, St. Louis successfully killed off just three of their opponents’ last 11 opportunities on the power play.
“PKs gotta get back here for the next six or seven games or whatever we have left,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said. “Just kill off some penalties. We’re giving up way too many goals right now.”
St. Louis began Saturday ranked 28th in penalty kills at 73.8%. Coincidentally, the Predators had the league’s 28th-ranked power play at 17.2%.
Predators defenseman Spencer Stastney made his NHL debut. He was selected in the fifth round in 2018 draft and turned pro after playing four seasons at the University of Notre Dame.
Prior to the game’s opening faceoff, the Predators held a moment of silence for the six victims of Monday’s shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School and for the nine service members who died when two Black Hawks crashed Wednesday at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The Predators also had Covenant School patches sewn onto the left shoulders of their jerseys.
Predators: Visit the Dallas Stars on Monday.
Blues: Host the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
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