ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Nashville Predators knew they were going to be in for a hard-fought, physical battle against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. They were ready.
Mikael Granlund scored a power-play goal early in the third period after St. Louis had rallied from a two-goal deficit to forge a tie and the Predators held off the Blues 4-3 on Saturday.
Viktor Arvidsson, Matt Duchene, and Kyle Turris also scored for Nashville, which improved to 3-0 this season against the Blues.
With Carl Gunnarsson serving a penalty for holding, Granlund took the rebound from a Roman Josi shot from the point and pushed it through Jake Allen’s legs to give Nashville the lead for good 3:59 into the third period. Granlund’s 14th goal of the season was his fourth in his last six games.
“Maybe there’s been situations earlier this season when they come back and we let down a little bit,” Granlund said. “I think we just kept playing, and then we earned one goal in the third that won us the game. It’s just a mentality to keep playing the way we need to play.”
Jusse Saros made 23 saves to improve to 11-9-4 on the season. He has won five of his last six decisions and is now 4-3-1 lifetime against St. Louis.
“I thought we came into the game really mentally prepared,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “I liked the fact we had good mental toughness, good focus. I thought in the third period we found a way to win the game and that’s the most important part at this time of year.”
The contest featured a pair of fights in the first nine minutes as Filip Forsberg squared off against Brayden Schenn 4:54 into the game followed by Jarred Tindori stepping in for Arvidsson to square off against Robert Bortuzzo 4:05 later.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Forsberg said. “They brought it. We answered the bell.”
Allen surrendered four goals on 27 shots to fall to 8-6-3 in just his fourth home start of the season. St. Louis is 2-6-3 in its last 11 games.
“I’m not going to sit here and question our team’s work ethic tonight and competitiveness,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “It was high and they played hard, came up short.”
Arvidsson put Nashville on top 6:29 into the first period when he one-timed a pass from Granlund past Allen for his 13th goal of the season. It was Arvidsson’s first goal in his last nine games as he returned to St. Louis for the first time since suffering a lower body injury after Robert Bortuzzo cross-checked him into the net on Nov. 23.
“I was rattled last time we were here and kind of rattled today, too,” Arvidsson said. “I just try to go out there and make a difference, and I thought I did that.”
Duchene made it 2-0 at 12:23 when he skated in and pushed the puck past Allen on the stick side for his 12th goal of the season.
Zach Sanford cut the deficit to 2-1 when he one-timed a pass from Sammy Blais past Saros 4:13 into the second period for his 13th goal of the season.
Turris responded 21 seconds later when his wrist shot eluded Allen for a 3-1 lead.
St. Louis again pulled within a goal less than two minutes later when Jaden Schwartz deflected Brayden Schenn’s shot past Saros on a power play.
Jordan Kyrou tied the game at 3-all when he intercepted a Predators clearing attempt from in front of the net and pushed it past Saros for his second goal midway through the second period.
“I think we’re not playing a full 60 minutes,” Sanford said. “We’re running around a little bit, and then I think after that we took over the game for the majority of it, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
NOTES: Prior to the game, the Blues took a moment to acknowledge everyone who came to Jay Bouwmeester’s aid after he collapsed on the bench after suffering a cardiac episode on Tuesday night in Anaheim. … St. Louis has allowed at least three goals in its last 11 games and has allowed a league-leading 71 goals since Dec. 27. … Josi now has 23 points (5 goals, 18 assists) in 39 career games against St. Louis.
Nashville: Predators host Blues in a rematch on Sunday night.
St. Louis: Blues travel to Nashville on Sunday night.
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