PREDATORS (7-8-1) at BLUES (6-6-4)
Last 10 -- Nashville 5-4-1, St. Louis 3-4-3
Season series -- It's the teams' first meeting of 2009-10. The Blues opened the '08-09 season with three straight wins, but the Preds took two of the final three in an 11-day stretch, the last victory on a Shea Weber shot that just trickled by Chris Mason in a 1-0 overtime decision on Feb. 21.
Big story -- After a tough five-game losing streak that saw the Blues drop three straight in overtime or shootouts, they rebounded big with a breakout 6-1 home win against the Vancouver Canucks. Andy McDonald, Brad Boyes and David Perron combined for 10 points in the offensive barrage, which included four goals in the first 7:36. Perron finished with a hat trick.
The Preds have been playing the type of up-and-down hockey that had Jason Arnott surprised one day recently that they were much closer to the playoff contenders than he thought. Despite a six-game losing streak early on, the Preds are looking for their sixth win in nine games. They're coming off a 4-3 loss at San Jose on Tuesday in a game they outplayed the Sharks but lost on a goal with 60 seconds remaining.
Predators -- "I thought we were at the bottom," Arnott said to The Tennessean last Thursday. "Then I was like, 'Man, we're only two or three points out of the playoff spot.' The rest of the guys kind of perked up. We're all kind of realizing we're in it."
They've slipped a bit since then, dropping two of the first three on this western swing, including getting shut out in Anaheim, a nice bounce-back win in L.A. then blowing a late 3-2 lead in San Jose. Overall, though, the road hasn't been quite so harsh with a 3-3-1 start despite a six-game losing streak.
Blues -- Home cooking at the ScottradeCenter wasn't tasting very good to start the season, the Blues going 1-5-1 in their first seven games. So the Blues believed they were due for a breakout.
It came against a Canucks team that had swept them out of the first round of the playoffs last spring. Perron, having scored two of the opening four goals in a span of 1:54, completed his hat trick off Roberto Luongo late in the third on the power play.
"We hadn't played real well at home," said Boyes, who nearly matched his season total of six points. "It was a tough building to play in last year. We've got to get that way again. This was a good way to get going."
Who's hot -- It's only one game, but it's hard to argue Perron's contribution. He also chipped in a goal and an assist in Atlanta for a total of five points in two games. Boyes' tally was four points, a goal and three assists, while McDonald had a goal with three assists. All this came from a team that could only muster four goals in its previous five games.
Injury report -- Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has missed his last seven games with the flu and remains questionable. Preds center Colin Wilson (groin) is not expected to return until the team comes home from the current trip. Right wing J.P. Dumont (upper body) has missed three games and is questionable.
Stat pack -- After starting the season 0-for-29 on the power play, the Predators are a respectable 7-for-30 (23.3 percent), though they're still last in the NHL with an 11.9 percentage. Blues (and ex-Pred) goalie Chris Mason was 2-0-2 with a 1.18 GAA against his former club last season.
Puck drop -- The Blues will have to prove that the win over Vancouver is the first step towards re-establishing a home-ice advantage, while the Preds try to exact some revenge for getting aced out by the Blues for a playoff spot last season.