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Mully's Musings: at St. Louis

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
It looked to be the game-changing play.

Nashville and St. Louis were tied 1-1 with seven minutes to go in the second period. Predators forward Martin Erat forced a turnover, and a split second later, he had the puck and was racing down the ice on a breakaway. But he couldn’t get it past Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak, and Erat slammed his stick to the ice in frustration.

But he made up for it later.

Erat scored the game-winner as the Preds defeated St. Louis 2-1 in a shootout to continue their steady play during the holiday season. It was Nashville’s sixth game in 11 days, and this marked the first time they won back-to-back games. Still, Nashville is 4-3-0 in those contests and is playing well with a slew of rookies who are being asked to step up.

It was remarkably similar to Nashville’s 2-1 shootout victory against St. Louis on Dec. 17. In that game, David Legwand claimed the game-winner.

Nashville entered Friday seventh in the Western Conference with 42 points, and St. Louis was one notch up with 46 points. The Preds inched one point closer, and will continue to chip away when they host Calgary at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday at 5 p.m. On to the musings…

Still grinding it out: Captain Shea Weber missed his third consecutive game with a concussion, but the Preds didn’t show any signs of frustration. Rookie defenseman Roman Josi may be the surprise player of the season for Nashville if he continues his solid play, and fellow rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis hasn’t shown any indications of nervousness or of being overmatched. While it’s easy to look at the players who have been called up, don’t forget about Weber’s defensive mate Ryan Suter, who played 31:37 -- including 4:34 of the team's 8:00 shorthanded time -- and kept everyone calm with his play and personality.

A wall of Rinne: Sometimes, Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne gets better as the game wears on. Sometimes he’s hot from the start. On Friday, his performance can be best described as stellar from start to end, and that included overtime and the shootout. He stopped 35 of 36 shots during regulation and overtime, and stopped all five shots he faced in the shootout. In back-to-back shootout victories, Rinne had stopped all eight shots he’s faced.

A surprise scratch: After Nashville’s game against Minnesota on Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena, the Preds players who participated appeared healthy afterwards. Apparently, that wasn’t the case. In the moments prior to the puck dropping at St. Louis, it was announced that forward Colin Wilson would be scratched with an upper-body injury. Against the Wild, Wilson played 17:15, the most ice time in his last eight games. There was no official word regarding exactly how long Wilson will be out, but Nashville can’t afford for it to be too long. Wilson has played with a different intensity this season and has been coming into his own. Even though he has not scored a goal in his last seven games, he entered Friday ranked sixth in points (22) on the team, and tied for third in goals with eight.

G Pekka Rinne: “It’s a big win and a nice way to finish 2011. The last couple of games we’ve been battling hard. Against St. Louis, it’s always difficult, but we always seem to rise to the occasion.”

G Pekka Rinne, Nashville: Stopped 35 of 36 shots, and all 5 in SO
G Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis: Stopped 33 of 34 shots
F Martin Erat, Nashville: Game-winner in SO

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