Preview: Predators at Blues
The St. Louis Blues look to avert matching their longest winless skid of the season on Saturday afternoon when they open a home-and-home series against the Nashville Predators. The Blues have dropped three in a row (0-1-2) heading into the tilt versus the Predators, to whom they lost both ends of a home-and-home set on Nov. 23-25.
St. Louis returns home after squandering a two-goal lead in a 6-5 setback versus Vegas on Thursday in its first game since defenseman Jay Bouwmeester collapsed on the bench in Anaheim. "Obviously, it's tough. We all went through a lot," Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly said. "You could tell we missed him. For myself, every game I've played here in the last year he's been here. It's weird not having him in the room." While St. Louis has lost eight of its last 10 (2-5-3), Nashville has won five of its last eight contests to move within three points of Arizona for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. "You'd love to be comfortably in a playoff spot, but we look at it as a chance to move up," Predators forward Nick Bonino said. "A few years ago, when I was with Pittsburgh, we were at the bottom of the league halfway through, then St. Louis last year was down in the standings at Christmas, so it's not unfamiliar territory for winning teams."
TIME: 3 p.m. ET. TV: FS Tennessee, FS Midwest
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (27-22-7): Juuse Saros, who made 31 saves in Thursday's 5-0 romp over the New York Islanders, turned aside 47 of 51 shots as Nashville posted a 4-2 win in St. Louis and a 3-2 victory over the Blues two nights later. Craig Smith has scored five times during his three-game goal streak, highlighted by his first career hat trick on Thursday. "It was awesome seeing him rewarded like that," linemate Rocco Grimaldi said of Smith. "I didn't know it was his first (hat trick). I could've sworn it was his 10th or 11th the way he shoots the puck. It was special ... It was a lot of fun to watch."
ABOUT THE BLUES (32-15-10): Zach Sanford scored four times on Thursday to double his previous best goal output in a single game, which was set in St. Louis' last victory -- a 6-3 triumph over Carolina on Feb. 4. Jaden Schwartz, who scored in the Blues' first loss to Nashville, has just one goal in his last 10 games. David Perron tallied in the more recent meeting with the Predators, although he has failed to add to his club-best total of 23 goals during the month of February.
1. Nashville captain Roman Josi has set up five goals in his last four games to boost his team-leading totals in assists (42) and points (56).
2. Bouwmeester underwent an implantable cardioverter defibrillator procedure to restore his heart's normal rhythm Friday.
3. Predators C Filip Forsberg has recorded just one point and a minus-5 rating in his last six games.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Predators 2