Blues-Predators Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 08, 2013
The St. Louis Blues feel like they are playing their best hockey at the perfect time. The Blues can post a season-high fifth consecutive victory when they continue a four-game trip Tuesday night against the last-place Nashville Predators. St. Louis (21-14-2) opened this trip with Sunday's 1-0 victory over Detroit and can record its first five-game win streak since March 3-11, 2012. "To come out with the win going into Nashville, three more, it's not going to be easy but it's certainly a good start," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. Brian Elliott made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season to win his second straight start. He'll have to be in the spotlight down the stretch since Jaroslav Halak is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a lower-body injury. "We've just got to keep building on things,'' Elliott said. "We don't have much time left so we just want to keep building.'' The Blues still have plenty of work left to do to gain a second straight playoff berth. They are in seventh place in the Western Conference with 44 points, one more than the Red Wings. St. Louis likes its chances based on the way it is playing, having killed off all 16 power plays over its last six games. "I think we've finally found our groove, we're playing the right way," Pietrangelo said. "I think we're putting our work ahead of our skill and it's resulting in a lot of opportunities. We don't care who's on that scoresheet." Chris Porter was the unlikely goal scorer Sunday, continuing a pattern in which unheralded skaters have stepped up in this win streak. Adam Cracknell scored twice in Thursday's 4-3 shootout win at Chicago and Jaden Schwartz had a goal and an assist three nights earlier in a 4-1 victory at Minnesota. St. Louis won twice in January over Nashville (15-17-8) before losing 6-1 at home in the last meeting Feb. 5. The Predators will try to avoid matching a season high with a fourth straight defeat. Nashville only has eight games left and has plummeted to 13th place in the West with 38 points as it opens a four-game homestand. "We've just got to play hard and see what happens,'' coach Barry Trotz said. "The chances are remote, but you've got to play hard. You're not going to do anybody any favors if you don't." Nashville dropped back-to-back games over the weekend to Chicago, 1-0 at home Saturday and 5-3 on the road Sunday. The latest defeat was especially frustrating since David Legwand scored his 11th goal of the season to put the Predators ahead 3-2 in the third period before they were dominated the rest of the way. Martin Erat leads Nashville with five points in the season series, but he was traded to Washington on Wednesday. Shea Weber, tied with Legwand for the team lead with 23 points, has none versus St. Louis. Vladimir Tarasenko leads the Blues with four points in the season series. Four of the last five matchups in Nashville have gone to shootouts.
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