(Sports Network) - The Nashville Predators have reached the light at the end
of the tunnel that is a franchise record-tying seven-game road trip. They hope
their second trip to St. Louis on this swing goes better than the first as
they battle the Blues on Tuesday night.
The Predators have not played a home game since Jan. 21, their second straight
shootout decision in Nashville to begin the season. They lost on that day to
St. Louis 4-3, two days after opening the campaign with a win over Columbus.
Nashville's road trip got off to a winning start in Minnesota, but a 3-0 loss
at St. Louis on Jan. 24 started a three-game losing streak. The Preds ended
that skid with a shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday and made
it two wins in a row in the breakaway format with a 2-1 triumph over the
previously unbeaten San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
Craig Smith scored the only shootout goal, slipping in a backhander during the
second round. Pekka Rinne then sealed the win by turning aside San Jose's Joe
Rinne made 26 saves in Nashville's fifth shootout game of the season. It had
lost each of the first three in a format that figured to be a strength for the
Preds given Rinne's ability.
"I'm finally making some saves in the shootout," Rinne told NHL.com. "It's
been a challenge for us but already we're on our fifth shootout. That's quite
a bit since we've played eight games. It was a big win for us. Smitty's goal
in the shootout was nice, and this time I was able to make the saves we needed
to get the win."
Sergei Kostitsyn scored in regulation for the Predators, who are 3-2-1 on the
swing and will next play seven of nine at home.
First Nashville will try to snap its four-game slide to the Blues and the
earlier loss on this road trip was their second straight in St. Louis.
Rinne made 21 saves in the loss, while Jaroslav Halak turned aside all 13
shots he faced in the shutout, giving the Blues their seventh victory in their
last 11 versus the Preds overall.
Vladimir Tarasenko was one of three goal scorers for the Blues and he was
named the NHL's top rookie for the month of January after tallying five goals
and nine points in seven games. Two of his goals have come versus the
Predators and he brings a five-game point streak (2 goals, 3 assists) into
Patrik Berglund also had points in five straight as he was one of three goal-
scorers in Friday's 5-3 setback to the Detroit Red Wings. He has four goals
and two assists over his run.
Kevin Shattenkirk and Matt D'Agostini also scored versus the Red Wings as the
Blues rallied back from a 2-0 first-period deficit before having a four-game
winning streak snapped with just their second loss of the season.
"We definitely did a good job coming back. From there it was anybody's game,"
The loss did come with some controversy as the Red Wings scored the go-ahead
goal with David Backes in the box due to a match penalty for a hit to the head
on Detroit's Kent Huskins. However, replays showed that Backes did not make
contact with Huskins' head and the NHL rescinded the match penalty on
Brian Elliott is slated to start at least the next two games in net for the
Blues after Halak was placed on injured reserve on Sunday. Halak suffered a
strained groin versus the Red Wings and yielded two goals on 11 shots before
exiting late in the first period. Elliott stopped 17-of-19 shots faced in
Goaltender Jake Allen was recalled from Peoria of the AHL to serve as the
backup, though Halak is expected to be back by the weekend.
The Blues begin a four-game homestand on Tuesday and have won all three of
their games in St. Louis this season.
The Sports Network