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Mason makes 47 saves in return to Nashville

by Brian Compton /
As he walked into the Scottrade Center on Tuesday, St. Louis Blues goaltender Chris Mason felt just a little awkward. After all, Nashville was the place he called home for parts of 6 seasons.

Once he took the ice, though, it was all business. By the end of Tuesday night's game against the Predators, Mason forced his former team to think about the goaltender they allowed to slip away during the offseason.

Mason stopped all 47 shots he faced through regulation and overtime, then went 2-for-2 in the shootout as the Blues earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory. It was Mason's first shutout of the season and the 13th of his career. The first 12 came with the Predators.

"It was weird to walk into the locker room as a visitor," Mason said. "It was quite a weird day, but obviously one I'll never forget."

In order to pick up the victory, Mason was forced to outplay his former teammate, Dan Ellis. The Predators' No. 1 goaltender made 17 saves through overtime, but allowed goals to David Perron and Brad Boyes in the shootout. Ellis made his ninth straight start for Nashville.

"When you can come down and sell the shot, then make a hard fake, bring it back the other way and then tuck it in, it's a tricky move to stop," Ellis said. "I just missed them both by a hair."

Mason clinched the win with stops against Rich Peverley and Ville Koistinen in the shootout, and was sharp in killing off Barret Jackman's tripping penalty in overtime, which came just 43 seconds into the extra session. The Predators kept the puck in the St. Louis zone for the majority of the power play, but failed to couldn't get any of their 5 shots past Mason. Nashville also hit the goal post on 2 other occasions.

"Chris never quit on any of his saves and we threw everything but the kitchen sink at him," said Ellis, who made his ninth straight start. "I think we did throw the kitchen sink, too, and he stopped that."

It was the first time the Predators had been shutout at home since Jan. 13, 2004, a span of 148 games. The last time it happened, Nashville skated off with a 0-0 tie against Los Angeles with Mason in goal. Tuesday marked the most shots the Predators have recorded in a game without scoring.

Afterwards, Mason credited his defense for their efforts during a highly-entertaining overtime.

"They've been doing an unbelievable job," Mason said. "Every guy on the team will block a shot. They'll put their body in front of it. That's the way we have to win. The 'D' has been doing an unbelievable job."

Mason had dinner with Predators defenseman Shea Weber on Monday night, and admitted to feeling strange during pregame warmups.

"It was mostly about blocking out the emotions," Mason said. "You get in the habit of thinking where guys are going to go because you've faced them so many times in practice, and that's not the case. For me, the biggest thing was trying to forget about the whole being in Nashville for years and that kind of thing. It was tough."

Mason's former coach, Barry Trotz, was thrilled with the effort his team put forth in a game that was basically stolen by Mason. The 30-shot advantage for the Predators was the largest in franchise history.

"I thought it was arguably our best game," Trotz said. "We came out and did what we wanted to do. We had at least 35 scoring chances. We shut down the second-best power play in the NHL. We showed a lot of patience and maturity. We just needed one to go in and we had plenty of opportunities to do that."

After having Mason for the past several years in Nashville, Trotz is also happy to see his former goalie doing well in his new home. Mason performed so well on Tuesday, he cost Trotz's team a point in the standings.

"There is no doubt that Chris was the first star of the game," Trotz said. "Anytime you get moved from a team and come back to play them there is extra motivation. He loved it here. He didn't want to move. He was a big part of our success."



Just as he was for the Blues on Tuesday night -- which is exactly why St. Louis coach Andy Murray will be expecting a better effort out of the rest of his team on Wednesday night, when the Blues visit Colorado. Nashville outshot St. Louis 11-3 in the third period and 9-1 in overtime.

"We can play a lot better than we did," Murray said. "We did not have as many shots, but we did have some good chances. I thought our team would be hungry for Mason to get a win. You can say that winning 1-0 on the road is a pretty good feeling."

It certainly was for Mason.

"It was a good night," Mason said. "This is definitely one of the top games in my career, so far. I was with Nashville for so long. It was just crazy."

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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