NASHVILLE -- For a third straight game in the Western Conference Second Round, the St. Louis Blues felt like they got off to a good start.
But the script from the series opener played out again in Game 3 against the Nashville Predators, with the Blues unable to stay out of the penalty box and hurting their flow at 5-on-5.
The result was a 3-1 loss to the Predators, who lead the best-of-7 series 2-1 with Game 4 here Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).
[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Predators series coverage]
The Blues were outshooting the Predators 8-4 when forward Ryan Reaves was called for elbowing Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban at 8:31 of the first period, 200 feet from his net.
The Predators didn't officially score on that power play, but defenseman Ryan Ellis beat goalie Jake Allen three seconds after it expired to give Nashville a 1-0 lead, and the Predators carried the play for the rest of the first and most of the second period.
Video: STL@NSH, Gm3: Steen lights lamp with redirect in 2nd
Before Alexander Steen scored for the Blues at 12:59 of the second period to cut the Predators lead to 2-1, Nashville had 21 of 23 shots on goal following the Reaves penalty.
After coincidental minors against Subban for holding Steen and against Steen for slashing Subban with 31 seconds left in the first period, Patrik Berglund's high-sticking penalty at the end of the period gave Nashville a 4-on-3 power play to begin the second. That man-advantage didn't result in a goal, but it really created more momentum for the home side.
"It got kind of carried over there at the start of the second and we took some more penalties," St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "I think again it's the consecutive penalties that we're getting ourselves into trouble. We've got to make sure we keep it 5-on-5 and take away those opportunities."
Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson had a shot on goal with 33 seconds remaining in the first period, but St. Louis never even attempted a shot against goalie Pekka Rinne for the next 9:32, a stretch when the Predators out-attempted the Blues 22-0. St. Louis went 13:32 without a shot on goal before Steen scored.
"That second period really got us there," Edmundson said. "They just kept firing it on net and just kept hemming us in our zone. I think that was their game plan, and we've just got to find a way to get around that.
"We've got to dictate the game. They were more physical than us tonight, and I think that's what kind of backed us off. Next game, we've just got to learn from that."
If not for Allen, who made 31 saves, giving the Blues a chance, it would have been a steeper hole for them. But at 2-1, St. Louis felt good and had plenty of opportunities to score the tying goal before Nashville defenseman Roman Josi scored to make it 3-1 at 14:11 of the third period.
Afterward, the Blues could point the finger directly at not reacting in the proper way, the way they did in Game 2, when they showed discipline, didn't give the Predators a single power play, and rallied in the third period for a 3-2 win.
Video: STL@NSH, Gm3: Allen lays out to stone Arvidsson
"I don't know if it was so much [the Reaves penalty] or if it was more of their push," St. Louis coach Mike Yeo said. "I think both teams came into the game ready to go. I think we had a decent start, like you said, but once they started to get to their game, we didn't seem to have an answer for them. They upped their game. They took their game to another level, and we didn't match it.
"We obviously we put ourselves in trouble a couple times shorthanded. But that wasn't really the story of the game. We scored one goal tonight. Fact of the matter is, for a large part of the game, we weren't even competitive. And so we obviously have to be way better. We have to make a couple changes, personnel-wise for the next game and look at the tape and see what we can do a little bit differently and a little bit better than tonight, because it wasn't good enough."