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Berglund's penalty shot helps Blues in shutout win

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- Patrik Berglund and Jan. 24 seem to go hand-in-hand.

One year ago on the date, the St. Louis Blues forward scored his first penalty-shot goal. He added his second Thursday night.

Berglund had a goal and an assist, helping the St. Louis Blues to a 3-0 victory against the Nashville Predators in a rematch of Central Division foes who played in Nashville on Monday.

Berglund had to be made aware of the feat and found it easy to chuckle about in victory.

"Bernie (Federko) just told me about that," Berglund said, referring to the Blues' Hall of Famer and broadcaster. "I can't really believe it, but I guess that's the only day I can score on a shootout, so hopefully it comes more often.

"I haven't been really successful in that area of the game, so it's obviously nice that I can score one."

Scottrade Center has become a place visiting teams dread.

The Blues (3-1-0) have been the best in the NHL on home ice since the beginning of last season. They added the Predators (1-1-2) to that list and improved to 32-6-5 over that span. St. Louis is 8-2-3 in the past 13 meetings with Nashville, including four wins in a row.

This is the first time in franchise history the Blues have started their home schedule with back-to-back shutouts (they blanked the Detroit Red Wings 6-0 in the season opener Jan. 19).

"Last year we talked about putting work ahead of skill, and that took some convincing," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "If you look back on it, we won against [the Chicago Blackhawks] and Detroit with that attitude, and I think it just reinforced the way we had to play the game to win. I think our players bought into it because they saw against two good teams how effective we can be. It became a little easier sell because we had success right away."

The Blues, who got goals from T.J. Oshie and rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, have thrown a blanket over the Predators on home ice, blanking them for the second game in a row. Nashville hasn't scored in 182:44 at Scottrade Center, since Dec. 30, 2011.

"Tonight we were trying to get a bounce-back game after a tough loss against Chicago (3-2 on Tuesday)," Oshie said. "Guys are just playing well, goaltending's great obviously. Everyone's just been good at home."

Jaroslav Halak had to stop 13 shots to pick up his 24th career shutout and 15th with the Blues, moving within one of tying Glenn Hall for the franchise record.

The Predators got few offensive chances and lost to the Blues for the second time in four days.

"You come into St. Louis, it's a bee's nest," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "They swarm you, they get on you. They have purpose and they work as a group, and tonight we weren't willing to play the game we needed to play to compete at that level. You're not just going to walk in here and have success playing like that. You're going to have to battle. Their battle was a lot harder than ours."

Captain Shea Weber agreed.

"We didn't have too many quality chances," he said. "They just played a lot better than we did tonight. They just beat us all over the ice."

The game marked the return of Blues defenseman Wade Redden to the NHL after nearly a three-year absence. St. Louis signed Redden after he was waived by the New York Rangers last week. Redden spent the past two seasons with the Rangers' American Hockey League farm team.

"Even at the best of times, there's always a little bit of butterflies," said Redden, who logged 17:23 with one hit and a pair of blocked shots. "That's what you play for, and in a lot of ways the excitement is a different environment than what I've been used to, so it was a lot of fun."

Oshie scored his second power-play goal in as many games, and the Blues' seventh in 11 tries, when he slid the puck past Pekka Rinne's outstretched left pad. Berglund's gritty work in front popped the puck to his teammate at the side of the goal at 12:59 of the opening period to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.

The Predators, in the second game of a seven-game trip, mustered three shots on goal in the period; they went 16:10 between the first and second shots.

Berglund gave the Blues a 2-0 lead when he beat Rinne 9:26 into the second after being awarded the penalty shot when he was tripped by Mike Fisher as he broke down the right side and made a sharp cut to the net. Berglund beat Rinne, who came out to cut off the angle, with a quick snap shot.

"I kind of just went in there, faked it once and shot one," Berglund said. "Luckily it went in. ... The only thing I was thinking about was coming in with a lot of speed."

Berglund scored on a penalty shot one year ago against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 3-2 shootout loss. He is now 2-for-3 in his career.

Tarasenko added his fourth goal in four games when he beat Rinne coming in off a weak-side line change after taking Alex Steen's pass from the half-wall 9:04 into the third period. The rookie has six points to begin his NHL career.

"It's a really interesting line (with Andy McDonald and Steen) because it's a throwback line," Hitchcock said. "It's a line that I think the hockey purists ... anybody that you talk to that saw the game back in the '80s and '90s would really appreciate this line. It's a puck-possession line, a line that has three guys with the innate ability to find open space on the ice in a game that has no space. They find space. They find room to make plays, they find open people, they see the ice. It's a fun line to watch from the bench."

In two home games this season, which includes the season-opener against Detroit, the Blues have not allowed a goal on 27 shots.

"If you look at territorial, it's 65-35 (percent), 70-30, we're occupying the offensive zone," Hitchcock said. "We're keeping it in the zone. We're wearing people out. Maybe it doesn't manifest itself in shots tonight, because they're a good team, a good defensing team. But we occupy the zone. That's the way you have to play defense. It's not always pretty at times."

But it is effective.

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