Preview: Predators at Blues
A rookie goaltender and a 10-4-1 run since the calendar flipped to 2019 have vaulted the St. Louis Blues into the Western Conference's second wild-card spot as they host the Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon. St. Louis, which is tied with Vancouver but owns three games in hand, and has six other teams within five points, won at NHL-best Tampa Bay 1-0 in overtime Thursday for its season-high fourth straight victory behind 32 saves from Jordan Binnington.
"This is a great way to finish off our road trip," Binnington told reporters after improving to 8-1-1 with a 1.70 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. "We've really come together as a team. We're playing smart hockey, disciplined hockey, and hopefully we're going to keep this going and continue to make a push." Nashville has won five of its last six games after Thursday's 3-2 victory over Dallas on Ryan Johansen's overtime goal and trails first-place Winnipeg by one point in the Central Division. "Ryan has been steady,'' Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters. "He's been terrific. He's been a good leader in our room through it all. And he's kind of shined through in a year where we've been banged up and lost a lot of key personnel." The Blues snapped a six-game losing streak in the series with a 6-2 victory in the last meeting Nov. 23 behind a goal and an assist apiece from Ryan O'Reilly, Brayden Schenn and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, FS Tennessee (Nashville), FS Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (33-19-4): Johansen also had an assist against Dallas and leads the club with 47 points after recording 11 in his last 10 games. Brian Boyle made his Nashville debut Thursday and was a minus-1 with two hits in 14 minutes, telling reporters: "It was great. What a fun place to play. It was fun before, and this is a different level, really. This was a memorable one." Kyle Turris on Thursday returned to the lineup after missing 17 games with a lower-body injury and was a minus-1 in 16:07.
ABOUT THE BLUES (25-22-5): Schenn (10 goals, 32 points in 48 contests) snapped an 11-game scoreless streak Thursday but had seven assists during that span. Vladimir Tarasenko (18 goals, 37 points) assisted on Schenn's goal and has three scores and five assists during a six-game point streak. Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who has played only 18 games this season, did not play against Tampa Bay because of an upper-body injury while David Perron (upper body) could return Saturday after missing the past six contests.
1. Nashville D Mattias Ekholm and F Colton Sissons are tied for sixth in the league at plus-26 with Predators C Nick Bonino eighth (plus-25).
2. The Predators are 1-for-37 on the power play over their last 11 games while St. Louis is 1-for-15 on the power play over the past eight contests.
3. Blues C Ryan O'Reilly (team highs of 20 goals, 53 points) saw his eight-game point streak end Thursday on his 28th birthday.
PREDICTION: Predators 3, Blues 2