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Predators respond to defeat Blues in Game 1

Vernon Fiddler scores to give Nashville win after St. Louis ties it in third period

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Vernon Fiddler took advantage of his opportunities Wednesday.

Playing his first game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Nashville Predators center scored the tiebreaking goal off a fortuitous bounce with 5:05 left in the third period for a 4-3 win against the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round at Scottrade Center.

"It was just a quick transition," Fiddler said. "I saw [Austin] Watson kind of get it in his feet outside and just tried to get to the net. He made a little flip pass and I just got a piece of it and just chipped it over the goalie. Lucky one."

Jay Bouwmeester's failed clearing attempt went right to Watson, who sent a bouncing puck toward goalie Jake Allen. He tried to pokecheck it, missed, and Fiddler tapped it through Allen's legs.

 

[WATCH: All Blues vs. Predators highlights | RELATED: Complete St. Louis vs. Nashville series coverage]

 

"Guys fought back great," Allen said. "A little mistake by me cost us. ... I did what I wanted to do."

P.K. Subban had a goal and two assists, Colin Wilson and Filip Forsberg scored, and Pekka Rinne made 27 saves for the Predators, who have won five straight Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"I try to live up to what I'm paid to do," Subban said. "I just try to step up and lead by example on the ice and do my job and today I got lucky a couple times, the puck went in for me."

Video: NSH@STL, Gm1: Fiddler chips in late go-ahead goal

Nashville left wing Kevin Fiala was taken off the ice on a stretcher 1:46 into the second period after his left leg hit the end boards when he was checked to the ice by St. Louis defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. The game was delayed 17 minutes by the injury and to wait for an ambulance to arrive and replace the one that took Fiala to the hospital.

Nashville coach Peter Laviolette did not provide an update on the 20-year-old after the game. The Predators said earlier Fiala was alert and stable.

"I don't think anybody could've thought or planned an incident like that with Kevin, and yet our guys, you could hear them on the bench when it happened, making sure their next shift was going to be a good one for Kevin," Laviolette said. "It was just one of those unfortunate incidents that happened in a game."

Colton Parayko had a goal and assist, and Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka tied the game with third-period goals for St. Louis. Allen made 28 saves.

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is here Friday.

Subban gave Nashville a 2-0 lead at 2:22 of the second period, 36 seconds after play resumed, and after Parayko made it 2-1 at 8:04, Forsberg scored a power-play goal for a 3-1 lead at 12:11.

"I liked the pushback," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "I liked the fact we came out the way that we did. Certainly some things we can learn from that, but the reality is, the second period was not good enough. Ultimately it cost us the game."

Schwartz made it 3-2 at 6:48 of the third period, and Sobotka tied it 3-3 at 9:22, but Fiddler put Nashville back in front 4-3.

Wilson tipped in a power-play shot by Subban at 11:24 of the first period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

 

Goal of the game

Sobotka's tying goal was the result of good speed by Magnus Paajarvi, who drove the middle of the ice, forcing Predators defenseman Roman Josi to respect Paajarvi's move to the net. It left Sobotka a lane to take a wrist shot, which went in off the near post.

Video: NSH@STL, Gm1: Sobotka snipes short side equalizer

 

Save of the game

Rinne had to be alert on Schwartz's tip-in attempt with 1:24 remaining in the third period. The shot was headed between his pads, but Rinne was able to prevent the Blues from tying the game.

 

Highlight of the game

Subban's slap shot from the right point came after a pass from Ryan Johansen on the first shift after Fiala's injury.

Video: NSH@STL, Gm1: Subban buries scorching one-timer

 

Unsung performance of the game

Predators center Mike Fisher won 12 of 15 faceoffs, had four shots on goal and three of Nashville's 34 hits playing 18:07.

 

They said it

"It's only Game 1, so we've got to look to the next game. We've been in this position before in the second round and it's tough. There's only eight teams left, every shift is so important. I expect that team to have their best game next game, so we have to be ready." -- Predators defenseman P.K. Subban

 

"That's hockey. It's an unfortunate incident. You never want to see that. I hope he's OK." -- Blues goalie Jake Allen on the injury to Predators forward Kevin Fiala

 

Need to know

Subban had more points Wednesday (three) than he had in the four first-round games against the Chicago Blackhawks. ... Nashville swept Chicago allowing three goals in the four games. … Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson, who was plus-3, is plus-7 in his past two playoff games.

 

What's next

Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round at Scottrade Center on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)

 

Video: Subban, Fiddler lead Preds to 4-3 victory in Game 1

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