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Predators try to bounce back vs. Blues

by Davis Harper

BLUES (1-0-0) at PREDATORS (0-0-1)

TV: FS-Midwest, FS-Tennessee

Season series: It's the first of four meetings between these Central Division foes. The Predators took four of six from the Blues in 2011-12, though St. Louis won the final two meetings.

Big story: Saturday's home openers for St. Louis and Nashville, despite both being played against division rivals, could not have gone much differently. In St. Louis, the Blues throttled the Detroit Red Wings 6-0, while in nearby Nashville, the Predators lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets. For two teams with high hopes, Monday will be another stern Central Division test.

Team Scope:

Blues: It was only the first night of the season, but St. Louis appeared to be in midseason form against the Red Wings. The Blues hustled Detroit into costly penalties - resulting in four power-play goals - and a lockdown defense held the Wings to just 14 shots.

"I thought we worked, and I think when we work and we initiate, we're a good team," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "And that's what we did tonight. We worked. We hunted the puck, we stayed on the puck, we were hungry."

In addition to their trademark defense, St. Louis may have found an answer to the offensive struggles that plagued them last season. Russian rookie Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals on his first two shots, both highlight-reel efforts.

Predators: Nashville started strong against Columbus, getting first-period goals from Martin Erat and Ryan Ellis, but Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 31 shots in regulation to force overtime. The early-season jitters were obvious in the shootout, when Nashville missed on five of six opportunities. Captain Shea Weber earned his first fighting major since 2009-10 when he dropped the gloves with Jared Boll.

"A little bit of timing was off, and guys on both sides were swinging away and not manning up I guess you can say, maybe used to summer hockey a little bit," Weber said. "But that will come and, and in a hurry I think it's going to get a lot better."

Who's Hot: Not to be outdone by Tarasenko, Blues' forward Chris Stewart also scored twice on the power play. … Sergei Kostitsyn had the primary assist on both Nashville goals.

Injury report: Gabriel Bourque is day-to-day for Nashville with a lower-body injury. … St. Louis has a clean bill of health.

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