ST. LOUIS - As the St. Louis Blues get set to host the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of their best-of-7 series (7 p.m., NBCSN, Y98 FM), special teams is the hot-button topic for St. Louis.
The Blues took three minor penalties in Wednesday's Game 1 - all in quick succession that resulted in a 4-on-3 and a 5-on-3 advantage for Nashville. The mistakes proved costly: the Predators scored two power-play goals en route to a 4-3 victory in Game 1.
"Penalties killed us," said Blues forward Ryan Reaves, who dished out 10 hits in Game 1. "You can't be giving a team back-to-back 5-on-3s and expect to come back from that even. We have to eliminate penalties. It's playoff hockey and teams are going to make you pay. We have to stay out of the box and start trying to draw a couple of penalties on our own and take advantage of that."
"Obviously it's not going to be possible to stay out of the box the whole series, so our penalty kill has to be good and when we do have to kill (one), we'll get it done," added defenseman Colton Parayko, who was guilty of a tripping penalty that led to Nashville's 4-on-3. "They have a very good power play, so we have to stay out of the box as much as possible."
The Blues started the game well - getting out to a 7-1 advantage in shots early, but it was a lull in the second period in which the Predators got multiple power plays and scored twice that helped doom the Blues.
Video: Parayko stepping up as Blues look to bounce back
In the third period, the Blues got to their game and dominated to erase a two-goal deficit thanks to goals from Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka. Of course, a late goal by Nashville ultimately won the game, but the Blues will be happy if they can pick up where they left off in the third period of Game 1.
"We got to our grind. That's our game," Reaves said. "Get it down low, work down low and it was tough for them to handle. You saw it the whole thing period when we started taking over. We had shift after shift in their zone. We just started too late."
So, with lessons learned from Game 1, the Blues intend to stay out of the box, stay the course and play the way they played in the third period for 60 minutes.
"We've got to keep things 5-on-5 and I think a big part is we showed in the period what we've got," said defenseman Carl Gunnarsson. "We just have to keep that for 60 minutes. You never want to be down 2-0, so (tonight) is going to be a huge game. We'll do everything we can to get a split here at home and move onto Nashville. Let's not talk bout Game 3 in Nashville until Game 2 is played.
"That's all our focus right now."