PREDATORS (17-11-6) at BLUES (17-12-5)
TV -- FS-TN (HD), FS-MW (HD)
Last 10 --
Predators 6-3-1; Blues 5-3-2
Season series --
This is the fifth of six meetings between the clubs this season, with the teams splitting the first four games. Each team won a game in Nashville, and then the Predators earned a 3-2 shootout decision in St. Louis on Nov. 11. The Blues then scored a 2-1 shootout victory Nov. 24 in Nashville after Andy McDonald
connected in the fifth round.
Big story --
Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne
started his first game since Dec. 1 on Thursday in a 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Rinne had missed nine games while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He made 28 saves in suffering his first regulation loss since Nov. 27.
"I feel fine," Rinne said after the game. "I think it was a good game to test that knee. It feels strong and it feels healthy."
In the second game of a back-to-back -- their sixth set of back-to-backs this season -- the club dropped a 2-1 decision to Ottawa in Nashville on Thursday. Left wing Steve Sullivan left Thursday's game with about three minutes remaining in the third with an undisclosed injury and Martin Erat
lost control while taking a shot on a breakaway and fell to the ice with 8:06 left in the second. Erat missed four games this season due to back spasms.
After generating just 38 shots and two goals in back-to-back losses, Blues coach Davis Payne decided to "re-arrange the furniture" against the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday. The coach inserted Matt D'Agostini
with David Backes
and Vladimir Sobotka
; Alex Steen
with Patrik Berglund
and B.J. Crombeen
; and Brad Boyes with Brad Winchester and Jay McClement. The club responded with 27 shots in a 4-2 victory. That positive trend continued Thursday, the first of a five-game home stand as Berglund broke out of a 10-game goal slump by scoring twice in a 4-3 victory against the Detroit Red Wings. The Blues scored three goals in the first period and goalie Jaroslav Halak
turned aside 35 shots to improve to 13-10-4.
Who's hot --
Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter
has recorded a point in six of the last seven games, totaling a goal and 7 assists in that span. Suter leads the team with 13 assists and is second with a plus-7 rating. … St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo
leads his team's blueliners with 13 assists and 17 points.
Injury report --
Predators, forward David Legwand
(lower body) is probable, Sullivan and Erat (upper body) are questionable and forward Matthew Lombardi (concussion) is out. … The Blues are without forwards Dave Scatchard (knee), Andy McDonald
(concussion), T.J. Oshie
(broken left ankle) and David Perron
Stat pack --
Nashville has allowed two goals or fewer in 13 of the last 18 games, dating to Nov. 18 against Montreal, posting a 10-5-3 record in that span.
Puck drop --
Nashville prospect Ryan Ellis, the team's first choice (No. 11) in the 2009 Entry Draft, will serve as captain of Team Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championships, beginning Sunday in Buffalo, N.Y. The 5-10, 172-pound offensive-minded defenseman is only the seventh player since 1982 to represent Canada at three World Junior tournaments, joining Jay Bouwmeester (2000-02), Jason Spezza (2000-02), Jason Botterill (1995-97), Martin Lapointe (1991-93), Eric Lindros (1990-92), and Trevor Kidd (1990-92).