As they try to climb the Western Conference standings for a playoff spot, the St. Louis Blues probably wish they faced the Nashville Predators more often.
The two teams close a home-and-home series Saturday at the Scottrade Center, as St. Louis looks to remain undefeated in regulation against Nashville.
The Blues (25-26-7) have recorded a point in all five meetings with the Predators (27-28-4) this season, going 4-0-1 in the season series. The Central Division rivals met Thursday in Nashville, with St. Louis winning 2-1 in overtime - the third time this season a game between the teams has gone beyond regulation.
With both clubs needing to gain ground to reach the postseason - Nashville is one point ahead of St. Louis but four behind Edmonton for the final playoff spot in the West - neither is surprised by the competitive nature of their matchups.
"Both teams are battling for the same thing," said the Blues' Keith Tkachuk, who scored the game-winner with 2:08 remaining in overtime Thursday. "There are serious comparisons between our teams. We both have the same coaching philosophy.
"It was a little bit of a chess match. There was tight checking and two goalies making great saves."
St. Louis has won three of its last four overall and is 9-3-4 since Jan. 15.
Former Predators goaltender Chris Mason made 28 saves Thursday, improving to 7-3-3 with a 1.61 goals-against average since Jan. 21. He is 2-0-1 with a 1.25 GAA this season against Nashville, which traded him to the Blues last June.
"It is great hockey to watch," Mason said after Thursday's matchup. "It was a fun game to be a part of. I wasn't surprised to see it go into overtime."
While the meetings in Nashville have been close, the Blues have dominated this series recently at the Scottrade Center. St. Louis has outscored the Predators 11-5 in two home meetings this season and is 5-1-1 in the last seven games against them on home ice.
Andy McDonald, who had a goal and an assist Thursday, has 10 points in his last eight games against the Predators.
A visit to the Scottrade Center isn't likely to help the Predators' offensive woes. They have averaged 1.6 goals in their last 14 road games - 10 of them losses. They've also dropped five of seven overall.
One of the few positives for Nashville's offense recently has been Steve Sullivan, who has played in 18 games since returning from a back injury which had sidelined him since February 2007. He has scored all three of Nashville's goals over the last two games.
"We need someone else to contribute," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "But it is great that Sullivan is finally scoring and is feeling good about himself."
Jason Arnott, who leads Nashville with 21 goals, has cooled off since scoring five goals during a six-game span Feb. 3-12, recording only two assists in his last four games. Arnott has one goal and two assists in his last six visits to St. Louis.