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Predators-Blues Preview @NHLdotcom
Predators-Blues Preview

GAME: Nashville Predators (24-11-3) at St. Louis Blues (10-22-5).

TIME: Wednesday, 8 p.m. EST.

They may have the fewest wins in the league, but don't count the St. Louis Blues out of the Stanley Cup playoff race just yet.

The Blues will try to build off their most impressive game of the season and post their first win of the season over the Nashville Predators when the Central Division rivals meet at Savvis Center.

Mike Sillinger had two goals and an assist and St. Louis scored three times in the first period en route to a 4-1 win Monday over the Vancouver Canucks.

The Blues will try to win back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 16-19 when they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings respectively, and just the second time overall this season.

"It's coming to a head here a little bit for us," said team scoring leader Doug Weight, who had a goal and two assists. "We're starting to get a little confident with the puck and play a little better game."

If the Blues, however, make the postseason for a 25th straight season, they will need more efforts like the one against the Canucks. With little more than half the season to go, St. Louis is 20 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

The Predators come in trying to snap a four-game skid after being shut out 3-0 Tuesday by the Colorado Avalanche.

The Predators were 0-for-10 on power plays, killing two themselves by taking penalties. During their four-game skid, they've converted just one of 27 power plays.

"When we should shoot, we are passing, and when we should pass, we're shooting," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We are a little bit out of whack there."

The Predators have won all three games from the Blues this season, outscoring them 9-4. Nashville has killed off 17 of 18 St. Louis power plays in that span.

But both of the Predators' leading scorers have struggled this season against a defense that has yielded a Western Conference-high 143 goals.

Paul Kariya has three assists while Steve Sullivan has only one goal in three games against the Blues this season.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 3): Predators - 51 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Central Division. Blues - 25 points, 4th place (tied), 30 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Sullivan, 17 goals; Kimmo Timonen, 23 assists; Sullivan and Kariya, 34 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 98 PIM. Blues - Sillinger, 14 goals; Weight, 26 assists and 34 points; Jamal Mayers, 88 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 3): Predators - Power play: 17.8 percent (46 for 259), 14th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85 percent (216 for 254), tied for 4th. Blues - Power play: 15.1 percent (39 for 259), 23rd. Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (189 for 232), 19th.

GOALTENDERS: Predators - Tomas Vokoun (19-8-2, 1 SO, 2.63 GAA); Chris Mason (4-2-1, 0, 2.97). Blues - Curtis Sanford (4-5-1, 2, 2.60); Jason Bacashihua (3-3-0, 0, 3.64).

SEASON SERIES: Predators, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 12; Predators, 3-1. At Nashville, Tenn., Scott Hartnell scored a power-play goal and a short-handed tally in the second period for the Predators.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 8-7-3 on the road; Blues - 5-12-3 at home.

Associated Press
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