ST. LOUIS â€” The St. Louis Blues needed a spark. Dmitrij Jaskin gave it to them.
Jaskin scored in his first playoff game this season, Jaden Schwartz got the game-winner and the Blues topped the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Friday night to stay alive in their second-round series.
Jaskin found out moments before the game he was in the lineup in place of Alexander Steen, who was sidelined by a lower-body injury. Jaskin had just one goal in 51 games this season.
“Steener, even though he didn’t play, he supported us,” he said. “He actually called that I’m going to score.”
Schwartz scored 25 seconds into the third, knocking in a rebound from right in front for a 2-1 St. Louis lead. Schwartz has a team-high four post-season goals, including three game-winners.
“You’d like to score earlier, but you don’t really think about that,” he said. “You just go play and obviously when it’s a tie game or a close game, you want to step up for your team.”
Jake Allen made 21 saves for the Blues, who had dropped two in a row.
James Neal scored for the Predators, and Pekka Rinne made 30 saves.
“Both of those goals came out of leaving a guy in front of me,” Rinne said. “Both times, two rebounds, two goals.”
Game 6 is in Nashville on Sunday.
Jaskin put the Blues in front at 5:43 of the second period, banging home a rebound off an Alex Pietrangelo shot. It was Jaskin’s second career playoff goal.
“We felt confident that he would go in and play a really good game,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “I thought he was a force along the walls on both ends and a difference maker.”
Jaskin had a career-high eight shots on goal. He also tied for the team lead with four hits and had two takeaways and two blocked shots in 15:46 of playing time.
“We had to do it tonight and we did it and everybody’s happy,” Jaskin said. “We’re going to enjoy it now for a few minutes and forget it and go get another one.”
Neal tied it with Nashville enjoying a two-man advantage with 6:10 left in the second. The power play was set up when Pietrangelo and Patrik Berglund both took minors with 7:19 left.
“The game was out of sync a little bit, we found ourselves in the box,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “They scored first, we were chasing the game at that point as well.”
The Blues managed just one shot on goal, a 45-footer by Pietrangelo, during more than four straight minutes of power-play time between the first and second periods, including 1:50 of a 5-on-3 opportunity.
Mike Fisher had three blocks for the Predators â€” all on Vladimir Tarasenko â€” during the Blues’ two-man advantage. St. Louis is a league-worst 2 for 29 on the power play in the post-season.
“Out of sync again,” Pietrangelo said. “Obviously (Steen’s) not in there, he’s a big piece of that, but it’s got to be better. We had too many opportunities to not capitalize.”
Yeo was happy with his team’s resolve after the special teams struggles gave the Predators momentum.
“The mentality we had to have to be able to bounce back from that is really impressive,” Yeo said. “That’s what we asked our guys before the game, whatever happens good, bad, you have to make sure you’re ready to come back and you’re ready to perform.”
NOTES: The Blues and Predators announced a joint effort to donate to flood relief efforts in the Midwest. The Blues will be donating all of the proceeds during Game 5 from their 50/50 raffle, memorabilia sales and Blues for Kids silent auction to the American Red Cross disaster relief efforts. The Predators announced that all of the proceeds raised from the “Smash Car” at Bridgestone Arena, as well as the Nashville Predators Foundation’s Game 5 online auction, would be donated to the relief efforts in St. Louis.
Joe Harris, The Associated Press