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St. Louis Blues 2, Nashville Predators 3 FINAL SO @NHL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Paul Kariya has been to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, but he's never seen a start like the one the Nashville Predators are putting together.

Tomas Vokoun turned away both shots he faced in the shootout and the Predators won their sixth straight to open the season by beating the St. Louis Blues 3-2 Thursday night.

``I don't remember ever going 6-0,'' said Kariya, the veteran All-Star who signed with the Predators in August. ``We've got a very good team, but we still have a lot to do. We are playing very well right now.''

The Predators have won half of their games by shootout and own the NHL's best mark. Steve Sullivan and Marek Zidlicky both scored past St. Louis goalie Patrick Lalime in the new tiebreaker, and Vokoun turned away Petr Cajanek and Doug Weight as the Blues fell to 2-4-1.

Nashville, a 1998 expansion team, had never posted a better first six-game mark than 4-1-1 in the 2000-01 season. The fastest the Predators reached 12 points was 10 games, done in the same season.

Thursday's win guaranteed the Predators' first winning October.

``This group wants to get better,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ``That's a sign of maturity. But we have to keep everything in perspective. We have to retain our work ethic and work on our speed and structure.''

Kariya would've been Nashville's third shooter, if necessary.

``I have Sully, Zidlicky, Kariya and we have one of the best goaltenders in the league,'' Trotz said. ``My job is done once we get to the shootout. There are a lot options and down the road, we'll extend that.''

The Predators rallied in the third period to force overtime. Jeremy Stevenson scored his first goal of the season at 3:00 to make it 2-2.

They finished St. Louis off in the fan-friendly shootout.

``A shootout is a shootout,'' Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. ``We go from a team game - we had a terrific team game - to an individual game. It's what fans want, but it's disheartening. We played 60 to 65 minutes, but it feels like a loss.''

Dean McAmmond gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead at 8:24 of the second period with his fourth goal of the season.

The Blues were short-handed for five minutes of the second period but the Predators failed to take advantage as David Legwand was stopped from the crease and Paul Kariya shot wide right on a breakaway.

Lalime was terrific for three periods and overtime, stopping 27 of 29 shots, and shutting out the Predators power play on six opportunities.

``He gives is a chance to win every night,'' Kitchen said. ``He made some great saves on their 5-on-3 (during the final minute of the second period and first minute of the third.''

After outshooting the Blues 7-2 for the first 15 minutes, the Predators took a 1-0 lead at 15:05 of the opening period when defenseman Dan Hamhuis put a shot from the left blue line past Lalime.

Skating in from the right faceoff circle, St. Louis defenseman Eric Brewer tied it at 1 when he beat Vokoun with a wrist shot with one second left on the Blues' only power play of the first period.

Notes: St. Louis LW Keith Tkachuk was placed on the injured list. ... Brewer's goal in the first period was the first given up on the power play by the Predators at home. In two home games, Nashville killed 11 short-handed situations.

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