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game preview

Blues look for a way to beat Predators

Saturday, 02.04.2012 / 12:14 AM

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Blues look for a way to beat Predators
St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators
BLUES (30-13-7) at PREDATORS (31-17-4)

TV:
FS-MW (HD)

Last 10: St. Louis 7-1-2; Nashville 8-2-0

Season Series: This is the fourth of six meetings this season between two of the best teams in the hyper-competitive Central Division. Nashville has won all three meetings, but two were shootout wins that came 13 days apart on Dec. 17 and 30.

Big Story: In a division that boasts four of the five best teams in the Western Conference, Nashville and St. Louis have shown impressive consistency along with division rivals Chicago and Detroit. Neither the Blues nor the Preds showed any signs of slowing down in January, which they finished with records of 8-1-2 and 11-2-0 respectively.

Team Scope:

Blues: As St. Louis approached the All-Star break, the team enjoyed the kind of month most teams can only dream of, going 8-1-0 to start January before losing two games in two nights to the Red Wings and the Penguins in a shootout. Despite the momentary setback heading into the break, the Blues were looking to move past their first losing streak in a month as they hosted the Kings on Friday.

Against Los Angeles, Jamie Langenbrunner scored the lone goal as the Blues smothered the Kings attack, limiting them to 22 shots. Jaroslav Halak wasn't tested often, but still made some big saves to secure his fourth shutout in his last seven starts.

The Blues showed no ill effects from a 10-day vacation for the All-Star break.

"All-in-all, I think we got into it pretty good right away," Langenbrunner said.

Predators: Nashville managed to keep pace with the rest of the division by going 11-2-0 in January, including a pair of five-game win streaks. They brought the second one into Philadelphia on Thursday for their second game after the All-Star break.

Closing out a three-game road swing against the Flyers, Nashville came out flying, outshooting Philadelphia 12-6 in the first period. But despite the heavy shot advantage, Philadelphia headed to the locker room with a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from Wayne Simmonds. Matt Read's goal in the second period doubled the Philly lead heading into the final period and while Ryan Suter's third-period marker would make things interesting, the Predators got no closer, and wound up with a 4-1 loss.

"I'm not saying that we played bad tonight," said center Craig Smith, who set up Suter's goal. "I think we did some good things that we can build on. … We're going to take the things that we learned tonight and move on."

Who's Hot: For the Blues, Halak has been unbeatable while David Backes has five points in his last five games. … With four points in his last four games, Suter has been leading the Predators' charge while Smith has five points in his current five-game point streak and Matt Halischuk has five points over a four-game streak.

Injury Report: The Blues are missing Andy McDonald (concussion), Kent Huskins (ankle), and Alex Steen (concussion-like symptoms). … Other than Francis Bouillon, who is questionable with an upper-body injury, the Preds are icing a healthy lineup.

Stat Pack: Fans of USA Hockey should love what they see on the ice on Saturday. The Blues have played eight American players this season, among the highest totals in the League. That crop of American-born players includes team leaders like team captain Backes, T.J. Oshie, and Langenbrunner. The Predators, meanwhile, have played 10 different American players, including key pieces Suter, David Legwand, and Smith. That total is bested only by Buffalo, who has played 14 Americans.

Puck Drop: Shots could be at a premium on Saturday night. The Blues allow fewer shots than any team in the hockey while the Predators take the fifth-fewest shots per game in the NHL. But despite their low shot total, the Preds have won a League-leading 19 games when outshot by their opponent.

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 27 '12NSH 0 at STL 3J. Langenbrunner
Feb 23 '12STL 3 at NSH 2 - SOT. Oshie
Feb 04 '12STL 1 at NSH 3M. Fisher
Dec 30 '11NSH 2 at STL 1 - SOM. Erat
Dec 17 '11STL 1 at NSH 2 - SOD. Legwand
Oct 08 '11NSH 4 at STL 2K. Klein
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
D. Backes51162137+157954
T. Oshie49141832+123422
A. Pietrangelo5081725+152034
A. Steen36131124+202223
J. Arnott49121224+112242
K. Shattenkirk5061723+163421
P. Berglund5112820-21802
C. Stewart48101020+37820
M. D'Agostini519918+142233
J. Langenbrunner4941418+92002
D. Perron2641317+61601
V. Sobotka4221214+112801
C. Colaiacovo3811314+8801
K. Russell39538+61701
R. Polak51088+45100
B. Jackman50077+153200
I. Cole17145+71200
C. Porter26314-1401
S. Nichol51224-45400
K. Huskins9224+6200
E. Grachev24134-3201
B. Crombeen16112+01900
A. McDonald3022+1200
A. Cracknell2101+1000
R. Reaves34011-16500
C. Fairchild5011-1000
N. Nikitin7000-5400
B. Sterling4000-1000
T. Chorney2000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Halak2915-9-5577321.97.922
B. Elliott2315-5-2386081.69.938
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Erat45122739+51833
S. Weber49102535+193051
D. Legwand49131932+11442
M. Fisher45151631-12145
C. Smith51112031-62860
R. Suter5062430+102831
S. Kostitsyn47131629+42211
C. Wilson50101828+41954
P. Hornqvist52151025-12442
J. Tootoo5161521-16611
M. Halischuk5212719+72502
N. Spaling487815-11003
K. Klein4531013-8401
R. Josi32279-101010
J. Blum33347-14601
R. Ellis17257+6221
J. Hillen45246+31600
F. Bouillon38066-22100
J. Smithson45145-53000
G. Bourque16134-1200
B. Geoffrion22033-21700
B. Yip14112+31300
N. Bergfors11112-2201
B. McGrattan30022-16100
C. O'Reilly5011-2200
T. Laakso9000-1800
K. Wilson5000-1000
C. Mueller4000-1000
M. Ekholm2000-1000
Z. Stortini1000+0700
R. Thang1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
P. Rinne4730-11-410614172.37.925
A. Lindback102-6-0232232.70.897