The Nashville Predators look to continue to fluster the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday when the Central Division rivals reconvene from the Christmas break to play the second contest of their season series. Nashville bounced St. Louis in the second round of the playoffs in April and skated to a 2-0 triumph in the first meeting this season on Nov. 24.
Pekka Rinne turned aside 34 shots to blank the Blues for the third time in his career in that encounter, but was blitzed for nine goals on 41 shots to sustain back-to-back losses heading into the break. The Predators limped into vacation with losses in three straight to reside one point behind first-place St. Louis, which had dropped five of six before completing a four-game trek through western Canada with a 3-1 victory versus Vancouver. “We needed a win. We didn’t want to go into the break with three days off and losing six of the last seven games,” goaltender Jake Allen said. The 27-year-old New Brunswick native has fared better in the Gateway City, posting a 10-5 mark with a .915 save percentage this season.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Tennessee (Nashville), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (21-9-5): Ryan Johansen collected a goal and an assist in the first encounter and repeated that production in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss at Dallas. Defenseman Roman Josi saw his point drought extend to four games despite unleashing five shots on goal versus the Stars, although the first-year captain wasn’t too worried about the troubles of both himself and the team. “The last three games, we didn’t play the way we wanted, but we’re a confident group,” the 27-year-old Josi said. “We’re a pretty honest group, and I think everybody knows we can play a lot better.”
ABOUT THE BLUES (23-13-2): Offseason acquisition Brayden Schenn has been a boon for the Blues with team-leading totals in goals (17), assists (23) and points (40), but the 26-year-old has just three points (one goal, two assists) in his last seven outings. Like Schenn, fellow forward Vladimir Tarasenko was held off the scoresheet in the first encounter versus Nashville, but the Russian notched an assist versus Vancouver for his lone point in four games. Patrik Berglund has found his scoring touch since returning from a shoulder injury, netting tallies in back-to-back contests to conclude the road trip.
1. St. Louis LW Jaden Schwartz has recorded 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 15 home games this season.
2. The Predators’ second-ranked power play did not receive a single opportunity in the last meeting with the Blues.
3. St. Louis is just 3-for-27 with the man advantage in the last nine games.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Predators 1