(SportsNetwork.com) – The St. Louis Blues have been nearly unbeatable for
three weeks, with a setback to the Nashville Predators last Saturday serving
as the lone blemish.
The Predators look to make it two in a row over the Blues on Thursday night as
the clubs rematch at Scottrade Center.
Nashville has won a season-high three straight games, a stretch that includes
a 2-1 victory over hosting St. Louis last weekend. That contest finished off a
4-2-0 road trip for the Predators and they returned home on Tuesday to defeat
the Edmonton Oilers 3-2.
All three Nashville goals came in the opening period, with Filip Forsberg and
Mike Ribeiro having a goal and an assist each and Matt Cullen also lighting
Forsberg, who has formed a dominating top line with Ribeiro and James Neal,
had six goals and four assists over a six-game point streak.
“I was really happy about the first period,” said head coach Peter Laviolette.
“I was concerned a little bit, I think, going into the game having just come
off of the long road trip. Historically, it’s meant a flat period for the home
team. So I think our guys did a really good job of conquering that and coming
out and playing a really hard period.”
Pekka Rinne turned aside 21 shots in the win, improving to 10-2-1 with a 1.83
goals against average and .934 save percentage in 13 starts this season. He
has helped lead a defense that has allowed Nashville to go 10-1-1 when scoring
at least two goals this season.
Nashville leads St. Louis by one point for first place in the Central Division
and handed the Blues their only loss over their past nine games.
After having their seven-game winning streak halted with Saturday’s setback,
the Blues bounced back to dominate the Buffalo Sabres 6-1 on Tuesday.
St. Louis saw its line of Jori Lehtera, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz
continue to click. Lehtera netted a natural hat trick, with Schwartz assisting
on all three goals and Tarasenko notching a helper on two of them.
The line has combined for 25 points over the last six games and Tarasenko has
logged five goals and five assists over a six-game point streak. Lehtera has
four goals and four assists over his five-game run.
“He’s a hard-working guy,” Schwartz said about Lehtera. “He’s a big reason why
our line is scoring right now.”
Joakim Lindstrom added two late goals, Alexander Steen also had three assists
and Brian Elliott made 28 saves.
Lehtera had the only goal for the Blues in last Saturday’s loss to the Preds,
with Elliott making 33 stops.
Neal and Forsberg had a goal and an assist each and Rinne made 28 saves,
moving to 14-11-4 in his career versus the Blues with a 2.05 GAA and .928 save
That effort snapped Nashville’s six-game losing streak to the Blues as it beat
the franchise for only the second time in the last 12 meetings. The Preds also
won for just the fourth time in its last 10 trips to St. Louis.
Jake Allen is scheduled to make his first career start in net against the
Predators tonight, having faced them once before in relief. Elliott is
expected to get the call on Saturday when St. Louis wraps a five-game
homestand versus Washington.