Blues-Predators Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 20, 2013
Perhaps no team turned in as dominant an opener as the St. Louis Blues did. The Nashville Predators certainly did not measure up to that standard. These Central Division rivals made far different first impressions as they get set for Monday night's matchup in Nashville. St. Louis outshot Detroit 36-14 in a 6-0 home victory Saturday. T.J. Oshie had a goal and two assists and Jaroslav Halak cruised to his 23rd career shutout. "I thought the biggest thing we did was we worked," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We scored some nice goals, yes, and everything like that but we worked right till the end." The tandem of Halak and Brian Elliott helped the Blues post a league-leading 1.89 goals-against average last season. St. Louis has back-to-back road games with a visit to Chicago on Tuesday, so Elliott will likely make his season debut in one of these contests. Halak has a 1.71 career GAA in 13 starts against the Predators while Elliott has a 1.35 mark in three. Rookie Vladimir Tarasenko will play his first road game after a spectacular debut with two goals Saturday. The Russian winger was a Blues first-round pick in 2010. "I was a bit nervous before the game but now I am happy to be here and I want to say thanks to my teammates, they really helped me," Tarasenko said. St. Louis turned in outstanding work on special teams Saturday, converting four of five power-play chances and killing off four penalties. "When you bring back most of the same guys from last year, there's going to be chemistry and you can see it out there," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. While the Blues shined against a perennial contender in the Red Wings, the Predators fell 3-2 in a shootout to Columbus at home Saturday. Nashville had won its previous three openers but lost to the team with the NHL's worst record in 2011-12. "We didn't have any exhibitions,'' coach Barry Trotz said. "I know it's going to be a roller-coaster ride, and it sort of was today. You thought you got your group sorted back together and then you're going through spells of the other team has the pressure on. That's part of the 48-game season." Nashville enjoyed a strong start on Martin Erat's goal 39 seconds into the game and got a power-play goal by Ryan Ellis in the first period, but came up empty the rest of the way despite outshooting the Blue Jackets 12-6 in the third period. "A little bit of timing was off, and guys on both sides were swinging away and not manning up I guess you can say, maybe used to summer hockey a little bit,'' defenseman Shea Weber said. "But that will come and, and in a hurry I think it's going to get a lot better." Pekka Rinne made 26 saves. Rinne went 4-1-1 with a 1.61 GAA against the Blues last season, winning two of three shootouts opposite Halak. David Legwand had a team-high five points for Nashville in the 2011-12 season series versus St. Louis while Oshie and David Backes each had five to lead the Blues.
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