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Brodeur's debut with Blues spoiled by Predators

by Robby Stanley

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-3 at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday, spoiling Martin Brodeur's first game for the Blues.

Brodeur made 20 saves on 24 shots, including 14 saves in the first period when he stopped some point-blank attempts.

"It felt pretty good," Brodeur said. "Everything was new. Got a lot of work right from the get-go too. That helped me get in the game. It's about making that one save in the third that got away from me that could have made a difference."

Nashville forward Mike Ribeiro had one goal and two assists; he has five points in the past three games.

"I've been closer to the net," Ribeiro said. "It's hard to score from far away in this League so I'm trying to really get close to the net and get tips, rebounds, goals like that."

Nashville (17-6-2) has won seven games in a row at home and retains the lead in the Central Division, ahead of St. Louis (16-8-2). The Predators have not lost two consecutive games.

"I think guys realize in this League that two games is the max," Ribeiro said. "Once you lose two, three, four, the League is so good that teams will climb in the standings. You can look at the games now. If you lose one game, you drop three rankings. It's really important to bounce back. There [are] 82 games. If you lose one, well, you're not going to win them all, but you need to focus on the next one."

Vladimir Tarasenko gave the Blues a 1-0 lead at 5:46 of the first period. Alex Steen made the pass on a give-and-go and Tarasenko converted.

Predators rookie Filip Forsberg tied the game 1-1 at 14:10 of the first period with his 11th goal of the season. Forsberg forced a turnover in the offensive zone and scored on the rebound of a shot by Ribeiro.

"To score goals in this League, you need to learn to create turnovers," Ribeiro said. "It's hard to score 5-on-5 up the rush. There's always trackers coming back. There's not really 2-on-1s; it's really by creating turnovers and you can counterattack from that. When we do that, I think that's when we spend a lot of time in the offensive zone, and from there we can create plays."

Eric Nystrom gave the Predators a 2-1 lead with 52.3 seconds remaining in the first period on a one-timer from the slot. Ribeiro had come out of the penalty box and was able to get the puck to Nystrom, who was wide open.

Ribeiro gave Nashville a 3-1 lead 1:25 into the second period. It was a tic-tac-toe play from Forsberg and James Neal, and Ribeiro had a wide-open net. The assist was Neal's first point in eight games.

"[Ribeiro] was terrific tonight," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "He's done so many good things for our club. Tonight I think it really shined through in a tough contest where there wasn't a lot of room."

Tarasenko scored again for the Blues at 3:51 of the second period to make it 3-2. Carl Gunnarsson got the puck off of a faceoff win by Paul Stastny and fed Tarasenko for the one-timer, his 16th goal of the season.

Colin Wilson extended Nashville's lead to 4-2 at 9:30 of the third period when he converted on a breakaway. Defenseman Roman Josi delivered the pass that sprung Wilson, and he made a backhand move to beat Brodeur.

"We had a lot of try in us today and a lot of good things, especially in the offensive zone, but when you make the big mistakes we are making on our half of the red line, it costs us," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.

St. Louis forward Jaden Schwartz scored to make it 4-3 at 12:32 of the third period when he put a snap shot past Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.

Brodeur signed a one-year contract Tuesday and made his first NHL appearance for a team other than the New Jersey Devils. He had a record of 688-394-105-71 in 21 seasons with the Devils, with the wins and his 124 shutouts ranking first in NHL history.

"We have skilled players who make plays," Brodeur said. "These guys are talented. Sometimes it is good and sometimes we make mistakes. I am really happy with the way the guys played in front of me. In warm-ups when I came out and saw the color of the jersey, it was weird to look at. It went away pretty quick though."

He was signed to help the Blues replace Brian Elliott, who is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Jake Allen played in a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday and is likely to get most of the playing time until Elliott returns.

St. Louis will play at the New York Islanders on Saturday; Nashville will host the Chicago Blackhawks.

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