The Nashville Predators did nearly everything right in their last outing but still ended up on the wrong side of a shootout loss. They'll try to duplicate that performance and get a better result on Friday night when they visit the struggling Atlanta Thrashers.
Nashville (10-9-2) controlled the puck and the pace of its last game against St. Louis on Tuesday night, taking a season-high 47 shots and allowing a season-low 17. The 30-shot advantage was the largest in franchise history.
The Predators, however, didn't capitalize on any of their scoring opportunities in the 1-0 shootout loss. Fourth-year defenseman Shea Weber, tied for first on the team with 10 goals and 21 points, missed all seven of his shots, and five other Nashville players came up empty on at least four attempts apiece.
"I thought it was arguably our best game," said coach Barry Trotz, whose team outshot the Blues 11-3 in the third period and 9-1 in overtime. "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."
The Predators' failure to take advantage of their scoring chances came in their first meeting with former goalie Chris Mason, whom they traded to the Blues in the offseason. Mason spoiled a strong outing from Nashville goalie Dan Ellis, who made 17 saves in his first shutout of the season before allowing shootout goals to Dave Perron and Brad Boyes.
Ellis, who split time with Mason last season, was starting his eighth straight game. He's 4-3-1 with a 2.22 goals-against average in that stretch, lowering his season GAA to 2.90.
Ellis hopes to deliver another strong outing and get back in the win column as he meets an Atlanta team that's lost four of five games following a five-game win streak in large part because of its defense.
The Thrashers (8-11-2) have allowed an average of 3.4 goals during the slump, which continued Wednesday night with a 5-3 loss to Washington.
Atlanta gave up three first-period goals, including two to Alexander Ovechkin, who finished with a hat trick. Ondrej Pavelec gave up each of those goals and lost his third straight outing, but Johan Hedberg will likely be back in net Friday as the Thrashers try to climb out from near the bottom of the league in opponents' scoring (3.52 goals per game).
Hedberg, a journeyman thrust into the first-string role because of Kari Lehtonen's back problems, has won four of five games with a 3.01 GAA after going 0-2-0 with a 6.44 GAA in his first three starts of the season. He's 1-1-0 with a tie and a 2.27 GAA in three career starts against Nashville, including a 3-0 loss last Oct. 25 in the teams' lone meeting last season.