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Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Nashville Predators (4-0-0) at St. Louis Blues (1-3-0).

TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EDT.

Off to the best start in franchise history, the Nashville Predators look to complete a perfect three-game road trip as they visit the St. Louis Blues in the opener of a home-and-home series.

Despite being one of only two unbeaten teams in the league, the Predators still don't feel they've played their best hockey yet. Nashville has had to rally in each of its first four victories - all decided by one goal, including a 5-4 shootout win over Phoenix on Thursday.

"Every game has been a nail-biter, if you will, but we'll take it," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "They don't ask how, just how many."

Paul Kariya scored the game-winner for the Predators - his second shootout goal this season - after netting the deciding goal in a 3-2 victory over Anaheim last Saturday.

"I don't think we've really played a good game yet, but we're finding ways to win," said Kariya, signed as a free agent in the offseason. "That's a positive, but we have to put together a 60-minute game and we still haven't done that."

The Predators, who at times have looked sluggish out of the gate, fell behind 1-0 in the first period but came back on goals from Steve Sullivan and Kimmo Timonen before the end of the period.

"I think we recognized that we can't put ourselves behind the eight ball and come back every game," Trotz said. "I thought we were much better in the first period than we had been for a while."

Sullivan had two goals and an assist, and led the NHL with nine points through Thursday.

The Predators killed all 16 power plays they faced before allowing three power-play goals in 10 chances Thursday. Nashville finished 3-for-5 with the man advantage and boasts the best power-play unit in the league, converting 33.3 percent.

"Special teams carried us," Trotz said. "They were really strong and they got us timely goals. Right now we don't have all aspects of our game in order, but we have enough of them that are making a difference, and we're getting key goals when we need them. We're getting key saves when we need them."

St. Louis ended its season-opening three-game skid with a 4-1 win over Chicago on Tuesday.

Jay McClement scored his first NHL goal on a penalty shot and added an assist for the Blues.

Patrick Lalime, acquired by the Blues from Ottawa before the NHL lockout, rebounded from a slow start and made 32 saves in his first victory. Lalime entered the game 0-3 with a 6.00 goals-against average.

STANDINGS (through Oct. 13): Predators - 8 points, 1st place (tied), Central Division. Blues - 2 points, 3rd place (tied), 6 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Sullivan, 3 goals, 6 assists and 9 points; Kariya, 14 PIM. Blues - Scott Young, Jamal Mayers and Dean McAmmond, 2 goals; Petr Cajanek, 5 assists and 6 points; Mayers, 9 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 13): Predators - Power play: 33.3 percent (7 for 21), 1st in NHL. Penalty killing: 88.4 percent (23 for 26), 9th. Blues - Power play: 19.3 percent (6 for 31), 10th (tied). Penalty killing: 79.1 percent (19 for 24), 21st.

GOALTENDERS: Predators - Tomas Vokoun (3-0-0, 0 SO, 2.59 GAA); Chris Mason (1-0-0, 0, 3.69). Blues - Lalime (1-3-0, 0, 4.57); Reinhard Divis (0-0-0, 0, 2.14).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Blues, 3-1-1.

LAST MEETING: April 3, 2004; Blues, 4-1. At Nashville, Brian Savage scored the tiebreaking goal as the Blues clinched their 25th consecutive playoff berth - the longest such streak in professional sports.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 2-0-0 on the road; Blues - 1-2-0 at home.

Associated Press

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