Game Preview: St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

By Jonathan Katje
Mike Fisher Alex Pietrangelo
Scott Rovak – USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues travel to Nashville tonight to take on the Nashville Predators in a matchup of two 2011-12 playoff teams from the NHL’s Central Division.

The Blues got a big win in their season opener, defeating the Detroit Red Wings 6-0. Christ Stewart and Vladimir Tarasenko each had two goals for St. Louis, as the team converted on four of five power play attempts. Jaroslav Halak got the shutout win in net, turning aside 14 Red Wings shots.

The Predators suffered a shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, falling by a 3-2 score. Ryan Ellis and Martin Erat got goals for the Preds, while Pekka Rinne stopped 26 shots. Nashville converted on its only power play chance, and killed off one of the Blue Jackets’ two chances.

Special teams scoring could factor into tonight’s game in a big way – Halak and Rinne don’t give up many goals, so any extra traffic in front of the net will help. The Blues showed they can score in all situations, but face a tougher top defense pair against the Predators than they did against the Wings on Saturday. Shea Weber, Kevin Klein and Ellis will try to slow down Tarasenko, as he looks to continue to showcase his skills in his rookie season.

Expect to see coach Barry Trotz try to get Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, David Legwand and Paul Gaustad more involved on the offensive side of things. The Predators managed 34 shots on goal Saturday, while the Blues peppered Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson with 36, if both teams can continue generating scoring chances and either goalie falters, this could be a scoring bonanza. If Rinne and Halak are at top form, expect a low-scoring game, probably decided by one goal.

The shortened season places extra pressure on division matchups like this, and even if it is still early in the season, expect a pretty intense atmosphere at Bridgestone Arena.

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