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Tarasenko's goal in third lifts Blues past Predators

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko's 20th goal helped the St. Louis Blues rally in the third period for a 2-1 victory against the Nashville Predators at Scottrade Center on Thursday.

Tarasenko scored on the power play with 5:20 remaining on a wrist shot that beat Predators goalie Pekka Rinne to the near side.

Tarasenko, who is tied with Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars for the NHL lead in goals, scored for the fourth straight game, sixth time in the past seven overall and 10th time in the past 12 on home ice. He has 11 points (seven goals) in the past 10 games.

"It was a great job by all my [power-play] linemates," Tarasenko said. "They're the ones that create this chance for me.

"It's always good when you win. Like I said before all the time, it's not about goals and points, it's about team success. ... You can't feel like this if you score a lot of goals and losing every game."

Tarasenko took a pass from Alexander Steen, saw David Backes parked in front of Rinne and let the shot go.

"The man can shoot the puck," said Backes, who scored the tying goal. "It's impressive. Like I said to [Fox Sports Midwest color analyst Darren Pang], I'm praying that he misses me, and if I've got the goalie's eyes, it's got a great chance. Even if he saves it, there's a rebound somewhere out there that it's tough to keep that stuck into the goalie."

The Blues (19-10-4) got 27 saves from Allen; he's given up one goal on 73 shots against the Predators in two starts this season.

It's a tough way to live in the NHL by having to rally after a second-period deficit, but the Blues are 3-9-1 in that situation; they also rallied from a one-goal deficit heading into the third and defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 on Tuesday.

"I just think we just keep playing," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I think we were doing some good things after the first five minutes of the first period and we just keep playing. We've needed our power play, it's come through for us big time, but part of it is we just keep playing. You trust that sooner or later the wheel is going to turn the right way."

Roman Josi scored on the power play in the first period for the Predators (15-11-6), who lost their third in a row and are 2-4-2 in their past eight games. Rinne, who has lost seven in a row on the road (0-5-2), made 31 saves.

"It's just not good enough," Predators captain Shea Weber said. "I don't know who we're kidding if I say we are. It doesn't matter if you out-chance teams. I don't think we did tonight. ... All that matters is the score, and we've just got to be better."

After Nashville's James Neal was sent off for tripping at 1:31 and St. Louis' Paul Stastny was called for delay of game on the ensuing faceoff, the Blues tied it on Backes' 10th goal.

Alex Pietrangelo took a wrist shot from the right point with Backes camped out to the left of the Predators net. Backes tipped the puck through Rinne's five-hole at the near post 2:38 into the third period. Kevin Shattenkirk had the secondary assist for his 19th point in the past 17 games (four goals, 15 assists).

"It's 4-on-4 and once we're in the offensive zone for a substantial amount of time, you know how tired you are on the defensive side of that, so we're trying to control it and just wait for someone to lose coverage," Backes said. "[Pietrangelo] had a little bit of time, so I went to the net. He shoots pucks at me all the time; we work on tips and just put it right in the strike zone, and I was able to get a piece. Tie game after that, and I think that gave us a shot in the arm to up our game for the last 10 minutes, draw a penalty and score on the power play."

Josi's power-play goal was the first against St. Louis in 10 games; the Blues were 23-for-23 on the penalty kill since allowing a goal to Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 25.

Nashville kept the puck alive in the St. Louis zone when Pietrangelo couldn't clear it, and then Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester broke his stick and had to get one from Stastny. Josi's slap shot from the right circle beat Allen 7:14 into the first period.

The goal was Josi's ninth point against the Blues in the past seven games.

St. Louis outshot Nashville 12-6 in the second period but could not solve Rinne. Their best chance came late in the period on a Scottie Upshall shorthanded breakaway, but the Blues forward didn't get off a good shot and went down into the crease.

The game was the first back in St. Louis for Nashville defenseman Barret Jackman, who spent 13 seasons with the Blues before signing as a free agent with the Predators on July 1. He received a video tribute and his family was in attendance.

"Pretty emotional," Jackman said. "I felt something coming. I tried to prepare myself. It was pretty nice. It was very nice of the Blues to do that and recognize my family as well."

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