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NASHVILLE -- The St. Louis Blues' road show continues to rack up points at a critical time of the season.
The surging Blues made it five in a row Tuesday, giving them a more secure spot among the Western Conference's top eight teams in a 1-0 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
Alexander Steen scored the lone goal for the Blues and Brian Elliott, on his 28th birthday, earned his second straight shutout, his 11th as a Blue and the 20th of his career. The Blues, who beat the Detroit Red Wings 1-0 on the road Sunday, own a shutout streak of 141:24, dating back to the second period of a home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
The Blues (22-14-2) are on a season-high five-game winning streak -- their first since March 3-11, 2012 -- with three of those wins coming on the road. The Blues jumped into sixth place in the Western Conference race; St. Louis and the Minnesota Wild, who lost 1-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks, both have 44 points -- but the Blues have a game in hand.
"We were in the playoff picture for a while, and then teams were catching us and we were looking over our shoulders," said Elliott, who owns a personal shutout streak of 129:31. "Now we've got to look up and catch other teams. That's the way you want to do it. You want to be on your toes and going after teams, not just hoping that they're not winning."
The Blues, who have not lost since they acquired defensemen Jordan Leopold from Buffalo and Jay Bouwmeester from Calgary last week, smothered the Predators, limiting Nashville to 15 shots. Elliott was certainly grateful for the light workload.
"Seriously," Elliott said with a smile. "Yeah, I'll take that any birthday for sure.
"Getting a win in this building ... they play well here, the crowd gets into it. It's kind of a gritty win. The puck was bouncing. Not too many pretty plays out there, but I'll take that win any day of the week."
The Predators (15-18-8) have dropped four in a row and saw their fading playoff hopes take another hit. Nashville is in 13th place, has seven games remaining and trails the eighth-place Red Wings by five points. It was Predators' second straight 1-0 loss at home -- they lost by the same score to the Blackhawks on Saturday.
"We can't sustain any offense and it is tough to get any shots," Predators captain Shea Weber said. "Everything we've got has been from the outside and we really did not have very many good scoring chances."
"It's just excuses," Weber said. "We've got guys in here that are playing and we have to do a better job. We have to have some sense of production one way or another."
The Blues came in waves at the depleted Predators, but Pekka Rinne kept the game scoreless until Steen broke the stalemate with his first goal in seven games. Steen took Vladimir Sobotka's pass and ripped a slap shot from the left circle through Rinne's pads with 3:23 left in the second period for a 1-0 lead.
"That was the situation I read, let it go," Steen said of his seventh of the season and first in eight games. "We just stuck with our game. ... I thought we did a decent job of playing our game today. We've been consistent and confident. I think we still can lift ourselves a couple more notches."
Rinne, who lost his fourth straight decision in his League-leading 39th appearance, said it was tough to give up that goal.
"You know you really can't throw in any excuses when you don't score goals, but at the same time, it is always disappointing when I give up a goal like that and we lose the game 1-0," Rinne said. "It is just the way things have been going and it seems like it is hard to change."
Once the Blues got the lead, they went into lockdown mode. On Sunday in Detroit, Elliott came up with timely saves. This time, the defense did a good job limiting Nashville's offensive chances -- the Predators were limited to five shots in the third period.
"The second and third [periods] were really good," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We kind of were a little loose in the first. It was a skating game in the first period, but I really liked the way we played in the second and third. I thought we were outstanding. I thought we checked hard. They work hard. ... I thought we earned it tonight. We created our forecheck. We created our possession game in the second and third period."
Said Bouwmeester: "As a defenseman, you felt like you spent a lot of time in the other end, which is always pretty nice. Maybe after the first period, we started shooting the puck more and cycling it a little bit more and created some chances. Any time you don't give anything up, when you only give up  shots, that's pretty good."
The Blues smothered the Predators' offense, limiting the home team's zone time -- thus the low shot number and easy workload for Elliott, whose shutout streak dates back to the third period Thursday at Chicago.
"The Detroit game was a little tougher to get the shutout, but it really doesn't matter," Elliott said. "You always just want to beat them by whatever ... one [goal]. Obviously you just want the 'W.'"
|Shea Weber Hooking against David Perron|