Bill Guerin scored the game's only goal and goaltender Manny Legace stopped 19 Nashville shots as the St. Louis Blues shut out the Predators 1-0 Friday night at the Scottrade Center. Nashville goaltender Chris Mason stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced but had little support at the offensive end as his teammates managed only four third-period shots against a stingy and determined Blues club.
The loss drops Nashville's record to 39-17-3 and snaps the Predators' streak of consecutive wins over the Blues at 14 games. The Predators return home to a sold-out Gaylord Entertainment Center Saturday to face the Minnesota Wild in a 7:00 p.m. contest. New acquisition Peter Forsberg is expected to make his Predators debut against the Wild.
Nashville looked its best in the game's first period-and-a-half but the Predators were unable to finish the chances they generated. Scott Hartnell put a rebound attempt just wide 6:30 into the first period, for example, and Nashville came out firing in the second period with multiple scoring tries that were denied by Legace. The Predators' closest shot of the night came with 6:30 gone in the second. J.P. Dumont tracked down a lead pass in the offensive zone and put on the brakes to lose his defender before feeding Paul Kariya in the middle of the zone. Kariya cut through the slot and lifted a backhander that caught a piece of Legace's rising glove before caroming sharply yet harmlessly off the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Mason kept Nashville in the game with a number of top notch saves. He stopped a flurry of chances in the final three minutes of the first period, making a great lateral move to deny a Doug Weight shot and turning aside a blast by Keith Tkachuk from the top of the right face-off circle. Less than a minute after Nashville's Darcy Hordichuk and St. Louis' D.J. King dropped the mitts for an even scrap, Mason made a stellar glove save on Lee Stempniak's breakaway chance 3:55 into the second period.
Later Mason couldn't stop a brilliant move and shot by Guerin, though, and the resulting goal gave the Blues a 1-0 lead with 52.9 seconds remaining in Period 2. Guerin entered the offensive zone late on the left side and took a pass from Weight, making a move around defenseman Shea Weber in the process. Guerin then cut hard to the net and pulled the puck to his forehand for a quick release that sent the puck high to the far side of Mason. The shot may have ticked off the stick of defenseman Ryan Suter, who was diving to break up the play.
Nashville closed out the game with last-minute pressure, as Mason went to the bench with 1:09 left in the third period. Still, the Predators managed only one shot--a tip-on by David Legwand from 12 feet out--before time expired.
NOTES: Nashville was unable to capitalize on four power-play opportunities but managed to shut down the Blues' power play four times to make special-teams play a wash in the game... Winger J.P. Dumont left the game midway through the second period with what was reported to be a groin injury. He did not return... Greg Zanon and Peter Forsberg (who was scheduled to arrive in Nashville Friday night) were the Predators' scratches.