Coming off their first loss of the postseason, the Predators rebounded with their best effort of the second round defeating the Blues 3-1 Sunday to take a 2-1 series lead.
Buoyed buy an electric home atmosphere in game three, the Preds came out with an aggressive attack against a Blues team known for it's physicality and heavy style of play.
The result was an aggressive forecheck that allowed Nashville to possess the puck for long stretches in the St. Lous zone, leading to a 34-23 edge in shots on goal.
The defining moment of the game came with about 6:00 to play in the third period when Viktor Arvidsson chased a puck into the offensive zone. Once he gathered the puck, the Preds maintained possession in the attacking zone through two complete line changes, leaving a tired group of Blues on the ice for 1:55 before Roman Josi's blast from the point found its way past Jake Allen for a 3-1 lead.
"Yeah, it was big," Josi said. "Credit to our forwards for getting possession and keeping it going."
It was the knockout punch that the Preds were unable to throw with a pair of one goal leads in game two and through much of this game. But Nashville just kept playing and this time came up with that big goal when it mattered.
"They're a good team and they're not going to give up," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "But we just kept coming line after line and were able to get it done."
The Predators depth of lines continues to be a big story this postseason. On Sunday, fourth line forward Cody McLeod, who didn't even play in the first round series, found his way into the scoring column with a spectacular goal off a nifty pass from Colton Sissons.
McLeod became the third member of the fourth line, along with Sissons and game one hero Vernon Fiddler, to contribute goals this postseason. He's also now the 13th different Predator to score a goal in the playoffs and the sixth different guy to deposit a game-winner in the team's six wins.
The Preds are also getting significant contributions from their blue line, both defensively against the Blues' top lines, and offensively. Besides Josi's goal, Ryan Ellis scored on a shot from the point midway through the first period for the game's first goal.
It was Ellis's third goal of the postseason and tied the franchise record with a point in six consecutive playoff games. Preds' defensemen have now had a hand in 12 of the team's last 13 goals.
"We've been doing it for a few years now," Ellis said. "We need everybody to be a part of the offense and we've got some talented guys back there that can make some plays."
After failing to make the plays late in game two in St. Louis, the Preds did enough to finally knock the gritty Blues to the mat in game three.
Perhaps showing the desperation of a looming 2-1 series deficit with game four to come in Nashville Tuesday, Blues coach Mike Yeo emptied his net with nearly 4:00 to play. But Pekka Rinne continued his brilliant postseason, withstanding a late barrage of chances for a 22-save day that preserved the 3-1 result.
— Steve Layman (@SteveLayman) April 30, 2017
Now the Predators have an opportunity to seize control of the series at home in game four before returning to St. Louis Friday for game five.
"It's a big win, for sure," Rinne said. "To come back after a loss and play a good game and win is huge. We haven't won anything yet, but now we have a huge opportunity (in game four)."