Thomas scores game-winner as Blues beat Predators 7-4
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The St. Louis Blues are doing their best to buy some breathing room in the Central Division.
Robert Thomas scored his second goal with 2:38 left as the St. Louis Blues beat the Nashville Predators 7-4 Saturday for their second straight win.
Thomas also had two assists for the Blues and has scored four goals over the past two games. St. Louis, second in the Central Division, padded their lead over Nashville to five points with the Predators in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
“That’s nice, but it’s more about the team,” Thomas said of his goals. “We’ve had two big wins to get back untracked and this is a huge divisional game. That’s more important.”
David Perron also had two goals, including an empty-netter with 1:57 left, and Justin Faulk added a second empty-net goal 24 seconds later.
Brandon Saad and Torey Krug each had a goal and an assist as St. Louis improved to 2-0-1 in the season series with Nashville. Jordan Kyrou had three assists.
“We want to start trending in the right direction before playoffs here, so these are a good two games,” Kyrou said.
Goalie Ville Husso made several great saves in the third against Nashville, including on Ryan Johansen’s shot right in front and Mikael Granlund’s wrister toward an open net that he stopped with his right skate. He made 31 saves for the win.
“That’s what you need from your goalies, and our goalies have done that all year, making those saves when you need them the most and we feed off of that,” Thomas said.
Nashville coach John Hynes blamed an odd-man rush as the difference in this game. Blues coach Craig Berube credits having elite players with Vladimir Tarasenko starting the goal with the secondary assist.
“You give them time and space, they are going to usually make something happen,” Berube said.
Matt Duchene scored two goals, tying his career-high with 31, and also had an assist. Filip Forsberg and Johnsen each had a goal and an assist for Nashville, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.
“It’s just disappointing to lose, obviously,” Duchene said. “With that much time left, it’s tough to get the game back with 2:38 left on the clock. Tough one. Probably should’ve at least gone to OT.”
Nashville wore its “Smashville” uniforms from its Stadium Series game two weeks ago and had a 7-1 edge in shots when the Blues struck quickly. Perron scored his 15th of the season at 6:35 on the power play, and Saad got his 18th on a wrister 48 seconds later for a 2-0 lead.
That led to competing “Let’s go” chants with the Blues having a heavy contingent of fans in the stands for the morning puck drop.
The Blues made it 3-0 when Thomas scored a power-play goal on a wrist shot with 2:18 left in the first. Duchene finally got Nashville on the board with his wrister from the right side of the net with 1:26 remaining.
Johansen pulled Nashville within 3-2 at 3:44 of the second with a slap shot from the high slot. Johansen went to the box for interference 30 seconds into a man advantage for the Preds, and Forsberg tied it at 3 with a wrister from the slot at 8:14.
Krug put St. Louis up 4-3 at 11:38 of the second, only to see Duchene tie it again, at 12:17, with a wrister past Husso.
Perron now has four points, including three goals, in three straight games. Krug got his 400th career point on the assist on Perron’s goal. Tarasenko had two assists as well, giving him his sixth 50-point season. Thomas notched his 100th career assist. Duchene now has eight goals in his last five games.
The Predators goalie had allowed only two goals on 71 shots faced in his last three starts, going 3-0-0 in that span. He gave up three goals within the first 18 minutes of this game, making 10 saves. He finished with 28 saves.
The Blues return home to host Winnipeg on Sunday night.
Nashville visits Minnesota on Sunday night for the Predators’ fourth game in six days.
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