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Erat, Rinne lift Predators over Blues in shootout

by Louie Korac /
ST. LOUIS -- Shootouts seem to be kind to the Nashville Predators. For the St. Louis Blues, not so much.

The Predators made it three straight shootout victories on the season, as Martin Erat scored in the fifth round to give the Predators a 2-1 victory over the Blues on Friday night at Scottrade Center.

Nashville (20-14-1) has won back-to-back games via the shootout thanks to Erat, who sent a shot high over the glove hand of Jaroslav Halak while Pekka Rinne kept the Blues scoreless on all five attempts.

"In the shootout, you've got lots of time to see what the goalie does, and he dropped the glove and I just tried to go high glove," Erat said of Halak. "I've been in this League a long time and I know how the goalies play.

"It's nice watching the videos before (games) but it's better to go with your instincts and you see what's going on on the ice, you see how the goalie plays and I just try to go with my instincts."

Matt Halischuk scored in regulation for the Predators. Rinne stopped 35 shots.

The Blues got a goal from T.J. Oshie and 33 saves from Halak. They dropped their fifth shootout of this season and sixth in a row dating back to last season. Their shooters are now 1-for-17 this year in the penalty-shot competition and the team has lost four of the five by 1-0 results.

"It's frustrating for the whole team, especially for someone like me who takes pride in scoring shootouts," said Oshie, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a left wrist injury. "To see the effort that Jaro put forth for us tonight and to not get him that extra point … it's unacceptable, I think."

Oshie said the Blues, who last won a shootout March 7, 2011, are squeezing the sticks.

"We might be grabbing sticks a little tight," he said. "We've got some guys that have never scored a shootout goal. They're making good moves. It's just not going in for them.

"For me, I decided not to watch video on Rinne today. I think I was kind of thinking too much before. I had a little hole there and I just missed it."

The Predators, who halted the Blues' six-game home winning streak, improved to 3-0 on the season against St. Louis, with two of those wins coming via the shootout.

"It was a tight-checking game, a good defensive game," said Rinne, who made several key saves for his team. "Both teams didn't have too many chances, especially the first two periods. Other than that, I thought overtime was more open and both teams went for it."

Added Predators coach Barry Trotz, whose team continues to play well while all-star defenseman Shea Weber is out with a concussion: "Not only are we getting great goaltending from Peks, but we are better defensively. They are learning under fire against a very good team, and the last couple of days we've had to clamp down and we've done a very good job.

"It's good for our growth as a young group, but it also says a lot about the future for us and also the present."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who is 15-4-5 since taking over, said the team can't continue to leave these extra points on the table.

"Since I've been here, this is the third time we've had a chance to win the shootout outright with the last shooter, and not being able to do it is frustrating for the players and frustrating for Jaroslav," Hitchcock said.

Added Blues captain David Backes: "Five rounds, you expect to get at least one in. We don't do that. Jaro really deserved the win. Jaro kept us in there long enough, but obviously it's an area you'd like to get better at.

"If we're not going to win (the shootout), we might as well win them in regulation or put one in in overtime and skip that whole formality."

Both goalies did their best to keep the respective teams in it long enough to the end.

"It's a good team and they've been playing really well," Rinne said of the Blues. "It's one of those teams, we're going to battle to the end. We've been playing solid against them all three games. We always seem to play well against this team."

Added Halak, who last won a shootout on Nov. 6, 2010: "In these shootouts, it's a 50-50 chance. It seems like this season we're having a hard time winning these. These are extra points for us and can make a big difference at the end of the season."
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