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Predators hope to stop slide in St. Louis

by John Kreiser

PREDATORS (5-5-3) at BLUES (9-2-2)

TV -- FS-Tennessee; FS-Midwest

Last 10 -- Nashville 2-5-3; St. Louis 7-1-2

Season series -- It's already the third meeting of the season between the Central Division rivals. Each team has won once at Nashville, with the Predators skating off with a 4-3 victory on Oct. 14 and St. Louis winning 3-0 two weeks later.

Big story -- St. Louis hit a pothole in Wednesday's 8-1 loss at Columbus, but the Blues own the NHL's longest home winning streak -- they've won 12 in a row, including six this season. Nashville has won its last four visits to Scottrade Center and is 13-5 in its last 18 visits -- but is trying to break a five-game losing streak.

Team Scope:

Nashville -- The Predators are finishing a five-game road trip that's been a disaster so far. They've lost the first four games, including a 5-4 loss at Anaheim on Sunday that saw the Ducks get the winning goal with less than 2 seconds left.

"It can be disheartening," said coach Barry Trotz, whose club was 5-0-3 after eight games before hitting the skids -- beginning with the 3-0 loss to the Blues at home.

St. Louis -- The Blues' hot start all came apart in 42 minutes at Columbus, during which they allowed eight goals after surrendering just 17 in their first 12 games. Jaroslav Halak, who entered the game with three shutouts in his last five appearances, was yanked after surrendering four goals on 15 shots. Ty Conklin, who had a shutout in New York on Sunday, allowed four more as the Jackets won almost every battle.

"Bottom line is we understand that we can't play that way," St. Louis coach Davis Payne said.

Who's hot -- Before Wednesday's meltdown, Halak had allowed just four goals in six games. He's 6-0-0 at home with a 1.14 goals-against average.

Injury report -- Nashville center Matthew Lombardi (concussion) is still on IR. The Predators hope to get defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Martin Erat back this week. … St. Louis forward T.J. Oshie left Wednesday's game with an ankle injury, and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and Barret Jackman are on IR. David Perron hasn't played the last three games after being hit in the head by San Jose's Joe Thornton last week.

Stat pack -- Nashville's Patric Hornqvist has 4 goals and 8 points in his last seven games against St. Louis. Goalie Pekka Rinne is 4-1-0 with a 2.19 goals-against average at St. Louis. … Halak has three shutouts this season, all at home, and the Blues as a team have four shutouts.

Puck drop -- The Blues hope that a return home will help them put Wednesday's loss in the rear-view mirror quickly. The Predators, who go home for a game against Chicago before heading back on the road for a four-game trip, desperately need a win to stop a slide that's threatening to put them in a big hole in the already-competitive Western Conference race.

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