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Predators go for eight in a row vs. Blues

by Brian Hunter /

BLUES (9-9-4) at PREDATORS (14-8-1)

Last 10 - Blues 4-3-3; Predators 8-2-0

Season series - It's the second of six meetings this season between Central Division rivals. Nashville is on a seven-game winning streak, and it started back on Nov. 12 with a 3-1 win over St. Louis at ScottradeCenter. Jordin Tootoo scored his first goal of the season with 3:43 left in the third period to snap a 1-1 tie. Pekka Rinne stopped 21 shots.

Big story - The Predators will be trying to equal a franchise record with their eighth consecutive victory - they originally accomplished the feat Oct. 5-25, 2005. After missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2003, the Predators got off to a poor start - in fact, they languished in last place until edging the Blues 15 days ago. Now they've surged all the way into second, and only the Blackhawks' eight-game winning streak has kept them from taking the division lead.

Team Scope :

Blues - Brad Boyes scored in the shootout Wednesday to give St. Louis a 4-3 win in Dallas, its third in four games. The Blues still find themselves fifth in the very competitive Central, but the Predators have shown how quickly a team can improve its positioning by putting a solid win streak together.

"We got what we deserved tonight. We talked about playing 60 minutes and we played a pretty darn good 52, anyway," coach Andy Murray told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His only issue with his team was a slow start to the game.

Predators - Five of Nashville's wins during this streak came on a recent homestand, and after Wednesday's 4-3 overtime win in Colorado, the Predators return to the SommetCenter, where they are a solid 8-3-0 this season. David Legwand scored 3:07 into the extra period to beat the Avalanche, as the Preds blew an early two-goal lead before rallying from a 3-2 deficit.

"We have to keep going at home, but it's always nice to win on the road," Legwand told The Tennessean. "We have to play better than .500 hockey on the road this season. That's going to be a big key to our success."

Who's hot - Blues defenseman Erik Johnson has taken over the team scoring lead with a four-game points streak in which he has 2 goals, 2 assists and a plus-4 rating.

Legwand has 3 goals and 7 points in the Predators' last five games, giving them a scorer to rely on outside of the top line featuring captain Jason Arnott, J.P. Dumont and Steve Sullivan. Rinne has tied Tomas Vokoun's franchise record with seven straight wins.

Injury report - St. Louis forward D.J. King is still about two weeks away from having the pins removed from his broken right hand.

Stat pack - Nashville's power play has scored at least once in six straight games and is now 18th in the League at 18.9 percent after struggling early.

"The power play has been huge in this last stretch," Trotz told the Tennessean. "It's gotten us leads, gotten us timely goals. We got off to a slow start and they've worked like crazy. They're getting results because they're doing the right things."

Puck drop - Trying to shake his team from a sluggish start, Murray went around the dressing room Wednesday morning assessing players' individual efforts with a "plus" or "minus" rating, the Post-Dispatch reported. Murray started by giving himself a "minus" in letting them know the time had come for everyone involved to step it up a notch.

"I think the message is clear," defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo told the paper. "The message is we're not getting the job done. As an organization, we're not happy about it and the message needs to be sent to the players. At the end of the day, it's us as players that can change the way people feel about it."

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