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St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators @NHLdotcom
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GAME: St. Louis Blues (38-29-11-2) at Nashville Predators (37-28-11-4).

TIME: Saturday, 3 p.m. EST.

The St. Louis Blues have been to the playoffs 24 straight seasons. The Nashville Predators have never been there in their brief history.

Both teams will have an opportunity to secure a place in the postseason when they meet in a pivotal Western Conference matchup.

St. Louis, Nashville and Edmonton are tied with 89 points in the race for the final two playoff berths in the West. Because the Oilers have played one more game and trail both teams in wins, the Blues or Predators can clinch a trip to the postseason with a victory Saturday.

"The next game is going to be unbelievably good," Nashville's Jeremy Stevenson said. "It's going to be a playoff game."

The loser of Saturday's contest could also clinch a playoff spot with a win in their final game of the season, regardless of what Edmonton does against Vancouver Saturday. St. Louis is at Minnesota on Sunday, while Nashville closes the regular season at Colorado.

"It's a big weekend for us," Blues center Doug Weight said. "We looked at this and knew it was all going to come down to this last weekend. We wanted to do our damage and let others fight it out amongst themselves."

Despite allowing just 12 shots, the Blues lost 3-2 to Detroit on Thursday and failed to clinch a playoff spot.

Mike Sillinger and Brian Savage scored second-period goals for St. Louis, which had a four-game win streak snapped.

Chris Osgood allowed three goals on 12 shots Thursday after stopping 54 of 55 shots in his previous two starts.

Steve Sullivan scored a power-play goal and assisted on another against his former team to lead Nashville to a 3-1 victory at Chicago on Thursday.

Adam Hall and Stevenson also scored for the Predators, who have points in four straight contests (3-0-0-1) following a home-and-home sweep of the last-place Blackhawks.

"It was a huge game for us," Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun said. "We've got be focused on Saturday afternoon. It will be a huge game again. That's where you find out how good you can be."

Sullivan has arguably been the best of all the trade-deadline acquisitions in the NHL. In 22 games since joining Nashville, he has nine goals and 21 assists.

One win in their final two games gets the Predators into the playoffs for the first time in their six-year history.

"We're trying to stay on an even plateau right now, but we're really excited," Stevenson said. "It's something brand new for this team. We just have to make it happen."

STANDINGS: Blues - 89 points, 2nd place (tied), 20 PB, Central Division. Predators - 89 points, 2nd place (tied), 20 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Keith Tkachuk, 33 goals and 71 points; Weight, 50 assists; Mike Danton, 141 PIM. Predators - Scott Walker, 25 goals; Sullivan, 49 assists and 73 points; Jordin Tootoo, 137 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 1): Blues - Power play: 18.1 percent (61 for 337), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.5 percent (305 for 361), 14th. Predators - Power play: 17.0 percent (72 for 423), 11th. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (283 for 347), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Blues - Osgood (30-25-8, 3 SO, 2.26 GAA); Reinhard Divis (4-3-2, 2.84). Predators - Vokoun (34-28-10, 3, 2.54); Chris Mason (3-4-1, 1, 2.28).


LAST MEETING: March 11; 1-1 tie. At St. Louis, Kimmo Timonen staked Nashville to a first-period lead and Eric Weinrich scored for the Blues in the second. Vokoun made four of his 28 saves in overtime for the Predators.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 15-18-4-2 on the road; Predators - 22-9-7-2 at home.

Associated Press
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