ST. LOUIS (AP) — One nifty little flip by Vernon Fiddler provided a big lift for the Nashville Predators on a rough night.
Fiddler scored with 5:05 left and P.K. Subban had a goal and two assists, powering Nashville to a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series on Wednesday.
The Predators lost Kevin Fiala to an ugly leg injury in the second period and blew a 3-1 lead before Fiddler poked a loose puck by Jake Allen in the third.
“They had a little push there,” Fiddler said. “We got 3-2 and then 3-3 and the building’s rocking. You have to give our guys credit. We just regrouped and went back at them and found a way to get the two points.”
It was the fifth goal in 43 career playoff games for the 36-year-old Fiddler, who did not play in the Predators’ first-round series sweep against the Blackhawks.
“He’s a veteran guy so he’s been in these situations before and he stepped up and got us a big goal,” Subban said. “That was the toughest game of the season for us and they fought so hard and had so many chances, but we found a way to get it done.”
Colin Wilson and Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 27 saves.
Game 2 is Friday night.
“I thought we got tested tonight in different ways and really responded well to all of it,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said.
Colton Parayko, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka scored for St. Louis. Allen finished with 28 stops, but lamented the one he didn’t make. He tried to poke check the puck away from Fiddler and instead it ended up getting past him.
“Guys fought back great,” Allen said. “A little mistake by me cost us.”
The Predators jumped in front when Wilson redirected a slap shot from Subban past Allen for a power-play goal at 11:24 of the first. It was Wilson’s first playoff game this year after he missed the first round because of a lower-body injury.
It was still 1-0 when Fiala was hit by Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and went hard into the boards behind the St. Louis net at 1:46 of the second. He left the ice on a stretcher and was taken to a hospital for further evaluation.
After the delay for Fiala’s injury and the arrival of a second ambulance at the arena, Subban drove a shot by Allen from the right circle for his first of the playoffs at 2:22. Ryan Johansen picked up the assist after the Blues were unable to clear the puck from the defensive zone.
“I don’t think anybody could have thought or planned for an incident like that with Kevin,” said Laviolette, who did not provide an update on Fiala after the game. “Yet, our guys you could hear them on the bench when it happened and making sure their next shift was going to be a good one for Kevin.”
St. Louis pulled within one when Parayko slipped a shot through Rinne’s legs with 11:56 remaining in the second.
Subban then set up another power-play goal for the Predators. The defenseman’s shot from the left circle bounced away from Allen, and then ricocheted off Forsberg’s skate and into the net for a 3-1 lead at 12:11.
The Blues rallied in the third. Schwartz scored his third of the playoffs, off a pass from Paul Stastny, at 6:48, and Sobotka tied it with a wrist shot from the right circle with 10:38 remaining.
“We dug ourselves a hole in the second period and I liked the push back and the fact we came out the way we did (in the third period),” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “There are some things we can learn from that but the reality is the second period was not good enough and ultimately it cost us the game.”
NOTES: Cody McLeod also played for Nashville after not appearing in the first-round series against Chicago. … Wilson has 11 goals and 19 points in his last 21 playoff games, dating to the start of the 2014-15 playoffs.
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