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Oshie returns, Stastny helps Blues defeat Predators

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues have relied on the “STL Line” for much of their scoring this season.

Although Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera combined for five points Thursday in a 4-3 victory against the Nashville Predators, the Blues got key contributions from some of their other top players.

The win lifted the Blues back into first place in the Central Division.

Paul Stastny's tiebreaking goal with 5:54 remaining in the third period helped the Blues defeat the Predators.

Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, and Lehtera and Schwartz combined for three assists. The line has 30 points in the past seven games, but Stastny's first point in four games since returning from a shoulder injury proved to be crucial.

"I'm just trying to help the team out," Stastny said. "It's been a weird start for me with the first game taking that knee and then I kind of hurt my shoulder. I knew before the season it was going to take awhile to kind of get used to guys, get used to systems and sometimes, you tend to overthink out there instead of playing.

"It's a win. ... That's a good team over there. We battled out a win, which was huge for us."

Stastny's second goal of the season, a redirection of a Kevin Shattenkirk wrist shot from the right point between the pads of Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, broke a 3-3 tie. It came after Stastny won a faceoff in the Nashville zone.

"You just try to take a better angle and come a little higher for reasons like that just because even if I do tip it, it's going to create a rebound if it doesn't go in," Stastny said.

T.J. Oshie, who was activated from injured reserve after missing seven games with a concussion, scored his first goal of the season for St. Louis, and Gunnarsson had a goal and an assist.

Jake Allen made 22 saves for the Blues (11-4-1), who won for the ninth time in the past 10 games and avenged a 2-1 loss to the Predators (10-4-2) here Saturday.

Oshie was cleared earlier in the day by doctors to resume playing after being injured Oct. 28 against the Dallas Stars. He was slotted on a line with David Backes and Patrik Berglund and played 22:58.

"I felt good," Oshie said. "Once I got the first couple shifts under me, it felt better, but it was good. ... It was a good battle; I think it was a good game to come back in."

Nashville's Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists to extend his point streak to seven games (13 points), Roman Josi had a goal and two assists, and Shea Weber had a goal and an assist.

Rinne made 23 saves for the Predators, who had a three-game winning streak end despite rallying from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits. Coach Peter Laviolette was trying for his 400th NHL victory.

"Our guys played hard, but we didn't win the game," Laviolette said. "They competed and they fought, but we came out on the wrong side. Any time you come back from a deficit, it's difficult, and we did it a couple of times."

Oshie put the Blues ahead 1-0 when his wrist shot from the point beat a screened Rinne 3:25 into the first period. Tarasenko and Lehtera got the assists, each extending their point streaks. Tarasenko has five goals and 11 points in a seven-game streak, and Lehtera has nine points in a six-game streak.

"Good screen by Schwartz in front of the net, and then a great play by Tarasenko to get me the puck up top," Oshie said.

Gunnarsson's first goal with the Blues needed video review after 1:47 ran off the clock. After officials reviewed the play, it was evident that his shot from the left point was good at 12:45 for a 2-0 lead.

"I didn't think it was in, but after a review, I'll take it," Gunnarsson said. "From my angle, I didn't think it went in. It kind of just bounced right back out. We looked up on the big screen and saw it was in by an inch or two. It was good.

"It was kind of weird sitting on the bench and ... what do you do, celebrate? It was kind of weird, and then they pulled the clock back. It's what happens. We'll take it."

Forsberg, who has scored a goal in six straight games (seven total), got the Predators within 2-1, beating Allen 36 seconds after Gunnarsson's goal with a wrist shot from the right circle.

"The line looks confident," Laviolette said of Forsberg, Mike Ribeiro and James Neal. "[Forsberg's] been really steady in his game, consistent in his game (and) in his attack. He's able to make plays. He finds holes and finds space and has a terrific shot. He's been a factor in numerous games now."

The Predators erased the Blues' two-goal lead when Weber's one-timer from the slot beat Allen high to the stick side 3:41 into the second period to tie the game.

The Blues took a 3-2 lead on Tarasenko's team-leading 10th goal; he cut into the middle of the ice and took a wrist shot that went through a set of legs and off Rinne's glove with 4:42 remaining in the period.

The goal completed the Gordie Howe Hat Trick for Tarasenko, who fought Ryan Ellis in the second period. Schwartz got an assist to extend his point streak to five games (eight points).

The Predators finally converted on their fourth power play, with Oshie in the box for delay of game. Josi's slap shot from the right point past a screened Allen at 19:59 of the second tied the game 3-3.

"It's always tough," Allen said. "You give up a goal in the last minute, it's tough to go into the locker room like that, but we rallied. It was a 0-0 game going into the third period. That didn't matter anymore. The guys pulled it out in the end. Paul had a great tip there and got a good goal."

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