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Blues deal Preds first preseason loss

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

The Predators suffered their first loss of the preseason Saturday night, as the St. Louis Blues used two second-period goals to overtake Nashville for a 2-1 exhibition victory in Kansas City, Missouri's Kemper Arena.

For the third time in as many preseason games, the Predators struck first. Forward Jordin Tootoo tracked down his own rebound, spun in the left circle and beat goaltender Patrick Lalime at the 7:20 mark of the first period. Teammates Scott Hartnell and Kevin Klein assisted on the goal. As the penalty calls increased in frequency, Nashville was unable to convert several quality chances--including two five-on-three power play advantages and a shot by Randy Robitaille that rang off the crossbar behind Blues goaltender Patrick Lalime.

"I thought we came out with really good jump," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "We had lots of chances early. We drew a lot of penalties with our speed, and we were really working.

"Really, momentum turned in the game when they killed off those five-on-threes," he added. "It certainly just gave [St. Louis] a little bit of life, and I thought they played a real solid game after that."

Three and a half minutes into the second period, St. Louis tied the game 1-1 on a goal by Trent Whitfield. Nashville's line of Robitaille, Scottie Upshall and Simon Gamache again turned up the pressure on the Blues shortly thereafter, but it was St. Louis who broke the tie. As the Blues skated with the man advantage, Dean McAmmond shot the puck high over Nashville goaltender Brian Finley to put the Blues up 2-1 with just over eight minutes gone in the period.

Strong play by Lalime, who stopped 28 of 29 shots, kept the Predators off the scoreboard for the balance of the game. Goaltender Chris Mason, who split the game with Finley, also shut the door for Nashville, stopping all seven shots he faced in the final 29 minutes of action. Finley had 12 saves on 14 chances.

In total, the Predators went 0 for 10 with the man advantage--also failing to convert on a third five-on-three power play in the second period--while St. Louis scored on one of their nine opportunities.

A crowd of 12,686 were attendance for the neutral site preseason match-up in Kansas City. After regulation play ended, a shootout exhibition took place and was won by the Predators, 1-0. The new feature, which had no bearing on Saturday night's outcome, is now being used by the National Hockey League to decide tie games. No players scored in the first three rounds. Predators Upshall, Scott Hartnell and Robitaille were stopped by Lalime. For St. Louis, Dallas Drake and Doug Weight both missed the net on their attempts and Mason stopped Scott Young. Blues defenseman Andy Roach's attempt went off Mason's blocking glove to start the sudden-death fourth round, setting the table for a shootout-winning tally by Simon Gamache.

Saturday night's game was Nashville's third in four nights, and the team will extend the streak to four games in five nights when it faces the Carolina Hurricanes at the Gaylord Entertainment Center Sunday. Start time is 5 p.m. for the game, which was added to the home preseason slate as a benefit for the Predators Foundation. All distributed tickets were free, and Predators players will greet fans at arena entrances and accept cash and check donations to the foundation. A portion of the proceeds will go to local organizations impacted as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Sunday's game will be broadcast on 104.5 The Zone, one of the Predators' flagship radio broadcasters for the 2005-06 season. The Zone's pre-game show begins at 4 p.m.

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