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Predators edge Blues on Weber shorthanded goal

by Robby Stanley

NASHVILLE -- Shea Weber scored two goals to lead the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 win against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

The Predators, who dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, have not lost two games in a row this season. They are 14-2-1 at Bridgestone Arena.

Weber gave the Predators a 1-0 lead with 1:55 remaining in the first period on a one-timer from the slot. Weber took a pass from Olli Jokinen and beat St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott over the shoulder to end a 16-game goal drought.

"Honestly I hadn't even thought about it," Weber said. "We're winning, and that's what matters, so whether I score or not, that's not the thing. If the team is scoring and we're winning, that's the biggest thing."

St. Louis tied the game 1-1 on Chris Butler's shot from the point less than a minute into the second period. The shot found its way through traffic in front of the net and beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne at 00:50.

T.J. Oshie gave the Blues a 2-1 lead at 14:39 of the second when he finished a give-and-go play with David Backes. The Blues had an odd-man rush after a Predators turnover, and Oshie was left with a wide-open net.

"Back-to-back, traveling on the road, we just need to simplify and make sure we stick with our game for a full 60 minutes," Backes said. "They can outshoot us if we're bending but not breaking, but I think we broke at a tough time tonight."

Nashville forward Gabriel Bourque tied the game 1:27 after the Oshie goal. He collected a rebound in front of the St. Louis net and kicked it to his stick to beat Elliott for his second goal this season.

"I've been playing real hard all year," Bourque said. "Sometimes it's nice to have a little bonus like that. It's fun to score a goal, but I need to do my job and keep forechecking and keep giving energy to the boys."

Bourque's goal came three seconds after an apparent goal by Predators forward Filip Forsberg was waved off. The call on the ice was upheld because video was inconclusive in determining whether the puck crossed the goal line.

Weber scored his second goal of the game, eighth of the season, at 9:02 of the third period with the Predators shorthanded. He joined an odd-man rush with defense partner Roman Josi and took a wrist shot that beat Elliott on the blocker side.

"They had one guy back," Weber said. "It was a huge hole. I think everyone was kind of collapsed at the net. Honestly I thought too, I was like, 'Should I really go?' But it worked out, so we're lucky."

It was Nashville's first shorthanded goal of the season, and the first allowed by St. Louis.

"That's aggressive," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "That's really aggressive. I think it's just the way it happened. They both walked out of the hole and as they approached the blue line, I think Roman just kept skating as hard as he could to get away from the defender behind him. They were able to jump up, and it was a big goal."

Elliott made 44 saves in his first game since he sustained a lower-body injury Nov. 25 against the Ottawa Senators.

"That's one way to get back into it is getting a lot of rubber," Elliott said. "It's probably not the game we wanted to play, but they came at us and we knew what to expect. Personally, I felt pretty good. I felt pretty comfortable in net and trusting of everything in my game. It's tough we didn't get the result we wanted tonight."

Nashville outshot St. Louis 47-28. Each team was playing the second of a back-to-back set.

"It's our mindset (to shoot often) every night," Bourque said. "It was [Elliott's] first game back too. We knew it had been like five weeks since he played, so we put a lot of pucks on net. I think [Elliott] did a good job. He played really well out there."

The Predators, who got three of four possible points in their back-to-back against the Blackhawks and Blues, know how important those points within the Central Division will be at the end of the season.

"I think our guys know what's at stake," Laviolette said. "You play Chicago, you play St. Louis, you play Minnesota: You know that these are the teams that you have to work to stay ahead of in the standings. They're all good hockey teams. Even Winnipeg. Right now, they're winning a lot of hockey games. They're playing tight. You've got to keep pace. You've got to keep pushing."

St. Louis will play at the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, and Nashville will visit the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

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