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Blues, Predators face off with key points at stake

Sportsnaut
Jan 17, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (41) dives to block a shot by Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26) as goaltender Ville Husso (35) defends the net during the third period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (41) dives to block a shot by Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26) as goaltender Ville Husso (35) defends the net during the third period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

While the St. Louis Blues hope to build on a needed victory, the Nashville Predators seem poised to continue their recent run of success.

Trying to win back-to-back games for the first time this month, the visiting Blues will look to keep the Predators from a fourth consecutive victory on Saturday.

While Colorado remains in control of the Central Division, St. Louis and Nashville are among four teams in the mix for second place. The Blues have three more points than the Predators and have taken three points from the previous two meetings between the clubs this season — both at St. Louis.

The Blues opened March on an 0-3-1 stretch before Thursday’s 6-2 home rout of the New York Rangers. Robert Thomas scored twice to match a career high with 10 goals on the season. David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly each had a goal with an assist, and Jordan Kyrou added two assists for St. Louis, which broke out after totaling seven goals over the previous four contests.

“There’s a certain way you have to play to be successful,” St. Louis coach Craig Berube said. “For three games, we didn’t do that. (On Thursday night), we did it again and we were successful.”

Perron has five goals with three assists over his past six games, while Kyrou has four goals and eight assists in his past nine. Kyrou had two goals during a 4-3 overtime loss against the Predators on Nov. 11. Meanwhile, Perron was blanked in the previous two 2021-22 meetings with Nashville.

St. Louis’ Ville Husso (2.16 goals-against average) made 27 saves Thursday to record his 14th win in 23 games this season. Meanwhile, teammate Jordan Binnington has a 3.67 GAA during his current 2-5-0 stretch.

While the Blues look to halt an 0-2-1 road slide, Nashville is aiming for a third consecutive home victory following Thursday’s 4-1 triumph over Anaheim. Matt Duchene had two goals with an assist and Filip Forsberg totaled one with two assists for the Predators, who own a 14-2 scoring advantage during their current three-game overall winning streak — which followed a 2-6-0 rut in which they allowed an average of 3.8 goals.

“We look at the standings and feel like every team is in a battle with somebody,” Forsberg, who had two points in his previous five contests before Thursday, told the NHL’s official website.

“(We know St. Louis is) going to be ready to roll, and it’ll be a very, very fun atmosphere.”

Forsberg had a goal in Nashville’s 5-3 loss at St. Louis on Jan. 17. Duchene has two goals and two assists against the Blues this season, and six goals with two assists during his past four contests overall.

Nashville star Juuse Saros posted a 3.33 goals-against average while losing six of seven starts before stopping 69 of 71 shots with one shutout in the Predators’ past three games. He stopped 24 of 29 shots in the January loss to the Blues.

Predators backup David Rittich (3.17 GAA) last saw action on Feb. 22, but made 33 saves in a November overtime win at St. Louis.

–Field Level Media