NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Martin Brodeur hadn’t played in the NHL since his final win April 13 with the New Jersey Devils. Stepping back into the crease after such a long break was a bit different for the 42-year-old goalie.
Wearing St. Louis blue instead of Devils red was just plain weird, at least in warmups. Then Brodeur got back to work, even if he didn’t get the win.
Mike Ribeiro scored a goal and had two assists, and the Nashville Predators spoiled Brodeur’s debut with the Blues by beating St. Louis 4-3 on Thursday night.
“It was a different feeling for me today,” Brodeur said. “I haven’t played in a long time. Coming into the organization, different players, different team, coaching staff, so not sure what to expect. I did it for so long with the same people over and over.
“But glad it’s over, and now I got (a game) under my belt. We’re going to stop talking about it and just play hockey.”
Brodeur made 20 saves in his first NHL start for a team other than the Devils. The Blues signed the four-time Vezina Trophy winner on Tuesday, tapping the NHL’s goalie leader in games, wins and shutouts to help while Brian Elliott is sidelined by a knee injury. His new teammates said they didn’t help him enough defensively.
“Definitely nice seeing him make those big saves,” Blues center Jaden Schwartz said. “He definitely kept us in it and gave us a chance to win it.
“Just a couple mistakes leaving guys open in their D zone, and really had no chance on a few of those.”
Rookie Filip Forsberg had a goal and an assist, and Eric Nystrom and Colin Wilson had a goal apiece as the Predators improved to 11-1-1 at home. The Predators snapped a six-game skid to the Blues in Nashville and took the Central Division lead.
“We just wanted to throw everything at him,” Nashville center Mike Fisher said. “He hasn’t played in a while and hasn’t practiced a lot, either, but he looked pretty sharp. It was definitely good to get that one.”
Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals, and Schwartz added one for the Blues, who lost for the second time in two nights.
St. Louis started Jake Allen in goal for a 4-1 loss in Chicago on Wednesday, and then turned to Brodeur against Nashville.
Brodeur, 688-394-176 in 21 seasons with the Devils — with whom he won three Stanley Cup titles — shut out the Predators the last time he faced them on Nov. 13, 2013.
He started this one with a fine save in close against Colin Wilson less than a minute into his debut. Brodeur also stopped James Neal on a slap shot in the first period.
“Marty was fine,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Tarasenko put the Blues ahead 1-0 with a snap shot at 5:46 of the first period, prompting Nashville coach Peter Laviolette to take his timeout.
Any chance at Brodeur notching a shutout ended at 14:10 when the Predators scored on their 14th shot. Forsberg, born in August 1994 — nearly three years after Brodeur’s NHL debut during the 1991-92 season — scored on a wrister off the rebound of Ribeiro’s shot at 14:10.
Nystrom put Nashville ahead at 19:07 of the first with a one-timer off a pass from Ribeiro. Brodeur had little help from his new teammates as Nystrom had a clear shot.
Ribeiro padded the lead to 3-1 just 1:25 into the second off assists from James Neal and Forsberg on a tic-tac-toe goal Brodeur had no chance at stopping. It gave Ribeiro his first three-point game this season.
Tarasenko pulled the Blues within 3-2 with his 16th of the season and second of the game at 3:51 with a slap shot off the faceoff.
The Predators missed a chance to pad their lead early in the third when Brodeur easily gloved Taylor Beck’s shot on a 3-on-1. But Wilson made up for the shot Brodeur stopped in the opening minute at 9:30 of the third on a breakaway. He scored with a backhander that beat the goalie glove-side.
Schwartz pulled the Blues within 4-3 on an unassisted goal at 12:32, but Predators goalie Pekka Rinne stopped several shots, including a flurry in the final minute with Brodeur on the bench, for his 17th win.
NOTES: Forsberg scored his first goal since Nov. 27. … Predators F Paul Gaustad was scratched and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. … Nashville is 12-3-2 in one-goal games.
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