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Post-Legwand era starts with hard fought loss to Blues

With David Legwand in the organization, the Nashville Predators’ all-time record was 529-450-60-89.

Without him, they’re now 0-1-0.

In front of 16,180 witnesses inside Bridgestone Arena, the Predators started their post-Legwand era with a hard fought 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. It was the second straight game in which the Preds played extremely well but couldn’t come away with a victory.

In fairness, both losses were to two of the league’s best clubs. Just like the controversial loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, Nashville kept up with the Central Division leading Blues but, in the end, the difference was the lack of goals scored.

“We had a couple of looks,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “So, yeah, it’s a little bit frustrating because you’re playing well in a lot of areas of your game and not getting any points. We’ve got to find the back of the net a little bit more.”

Pekka Rinne made 20 saves while his counterpart at the other end of the ice, the recently-acquired Ryan Miller, turned aside 20 of 21.

The Blues struck first when, right off an offensive zone faceoff, Ian Cole fired a shot from the blueline that found its way past Rinne for the early 1-0 lead.

Midway through the opening frame, Patric Hornqvist slung a centering pass from the corner and Nick Spaling, who was driving hard to the net, kept his blade on the ice and was able to tip one past Miller to tie the game.

St. Louis re-took the lead when, halfway through the second, Magnus Paajarvi blew past Fisher in the neutral zone, broke down the wing, switched to his forehand and found the only glimmer of daylight behind Rinne to make it 2-1.

“Magnus has a very underrated speed,” Cole said about his teammate. “You don’t notice that they’re skating fast until they fly by you and make you look stupid. He just skates so fluid, so effortless. It’s pretty to watch, that’s for sure.”

Moments later, on a rare Roman Josi giveaway, Alex Steen was awarded a penalty shot. Steen, the Blues’ leading goal scorer this season, broke in and shot the puck right into Rinne’s glove. It was the sixth penalty shot that Rinne’s faced in his career and his fourth save.

“He’s getting tested, and he’s having every game a new adventure,” Trotz said. “He made a big stop in the last game at the start of the game, and today he had to stop a penalty shot and get run into by Backes. He’s getting tested pretty well.”

That’s how the night would finish and the Preds would fall to eight points back of the 8th place Dallas Stars.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming out of the break,” Shea Weber said. “There are a lot of teams in the race, and we’re a little bit behind. It’s still possible.”

He’s right. It’ll certainly be an uphill battle but it is possible. Of the five teams competing for the final playoff spot, the Vancouver Canucks seem to be in a free fall and only the Phoenix Coyotes have a win streak going (two wins).

The final game of the five-game homestand comes on Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Puck drops at 7:00pm Central.

As far as Legwand playing elsewhere for the first time?

“I saw about six seconds of that,” Trotz said. “But yeah, it’s just… It looks a little strange.”

1. Magnus Paajarvi (STL)
2. Pekka Rinne (NSH)
3. Ian Cole (STL)