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Preview: Predators at Blues

Tied for third in Central, Nashville can clinch playoff berth with one point against St. Louis

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

PREDATORS (40-27-11) at BLUES (42-28-7)

4 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-T, NHL.TV


Predators team scope

The Nashville Predators can clinch a berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with one point against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. If the Predators lose in regulation, they would qualify if the Los Angeles Kings do not win later against the Arizona Coyotes. "Obviously for us, the biggest thing is to clinch the playoffs," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "Now we are that much closer." The Predators and Blues are tied for third place in the Central Division heading into the final week of the regular season. The Predators tied the Blues by defeating the Minnesota Wild 3-0 on Saturday. Nashville, 8-3-0 in its past 11 games, has four games remaining. "We need another solid effort," Predators captain Mike Fisher said. "That's a huge game [Sunday]. We've got to play like we did [Saturday], take it on the road and compete and battle like we did." Nashville played without forwards James Neal (upper body) and Craig Smith (upper body) and their availability will not be known until game time. After Rinne shut out the Wild, backup goalie Juuse Saros could start; he got his first NHL shutout in St. Louis on Dec. 30, winning 4-0.

Blues team scope

St. Louis has one game in hand on Nashville and holds the tiebreaker at this point with more regulation/overtime wins (41-38). "It's going to be like a playoff game," right wing David Perron said. "The atmosphere at Scottrade [Center] will be awesome. I can't wait for that. ... The fans will be a big part of it for us next game." The Blues have at least one point in eight straight games (6-0-2) and 13 of the past 14 (11-1-2). "We came a long way obviously here in the last month," captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "There's going to be ups and downs. ... It's a big game for both teams here [Sunday]. We want to separate ourselves even more. It makes for a fun environment." The Blues recalled defenseman Petteri Lindbohm and forward Kenny Agostino from Chicago of the American Hockey League under emergency conditions. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo left a 2-1 shootout loss at the Colorado Avalanche on Friday early in the second period with an upper-body injury, and center Ivan Barbashev blocked a shot with 1:05 remaining in the third period and did not return. The Blues didn't practice Saturday, so it is wasn't revealed if any forwards were injured Friday.


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala -- Mike Fisher -- Calle Jarnkrok

Colin Wilson -- Colton Sissons -- PA Parenteau

Cody McLeod -- Vernon Fiddler -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Anthony Bitetto -- Matt Irwin

Juuse Saros

Pekka Rinne

Scratched: Brad Hunt, Harry Zolnierczyk

Injured: James Neal (upper body), Miikka Salomaki (lower body), Craig Smith (upper body), Yannick Weber (upper body)


Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Alexander Steen -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron

Zach Sanford -- Ivan Barbashev -- Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Robert Bortuzzo -- Jordan Schmaltz

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Petteri Lindbohm, Kenny Agostino

Injured: Paul Stastny (lower body), Robby Fabbri (knee), Carl Gunnarsson (lower body), Dmitrij Jaskin (upper body), Jori Lehtera (upper body)


Status report

With Neal out of the lineup Saturday, Fiddler centered the fourth line, which he will do again if Neal can't play. … If Bortuzzo can't play, Lindbohm is expected to pair with Schmaltz. … Agostino will play if the Blues have an injury at forward.


Who's hot

Rinne is 6-2-0 and has allowed 14 goals the past eight starts. … Tarasenko has 13 points (eight goals, five assists) the past 13 games. ... Schwartz has seven points (four goals, three assists) the past six games. … Allen is 8-1-2 with two shutouts and 15 goals allowed the past 11 starts.

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