NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After three games, Ryan Miller is fitting in just fine with the Blues.
Ian Cole had a goal and an assist to lead St. Louis to its third straight win, 2-1 over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
Magnus Paajarvi had the other goal for the Blues, who have won all four of their games against Nashville this season. They are 16-0-1 against fellow Central Division teams.
Miller stopped 20 shots to win his third game in as many starts since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. Nick Spaling scored for the Predators, losers of six of seven.
“This is not how we wanted to come out of the break,” Nashville forward Colin Wilson said. “Obviously we wanted to come out on a roll, and (we) haven’t been able to.”
Miller was quick to credit his teammates for the few shots against he had to face.
“Every night, these guys track hard,” he said. “They know where to be. They make the game easy to read.”
Cole scored the game’s first goal at 4:03 of the opening period after Steve Ott won a faceoff in the left circle and Cole beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne with a wrist shot high to the far side.
“Otter had a great win right back to me, and I just kind of waited for traffic to get to the net,” Cole said. “I then shot it high to the far side. I don’t think he saw it.”
Ott’s assist was his first point as a Blue.
Nashville drew even at 10:28 of the first on Spaling’s 11th goal of the season.
From the right half boards, Patric Hornqvist sent a pass in front, where Spaling tipped the puck high over Miller’s right shoulder.
The Predators have scored just one goal in each of their last three games, all losses.
“We had a couple of looks, and when we had those looks, we weren’t able to get it by Miller,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “So yeah, it’s a little bit frustrating because you’re playing well in a lot of areas of your game and not getting any points.”
St. Louis regained the lead at 8:18 of the second on Paajarvi’s sixth of the season.
Paajarvi took a pass from Roman Polak in the neutral zone and skated into the Nashville zone on the right side, where he cut into the right faceoff circle and beat Rinne with a quick wrist shot.
“He’s really improved,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said of Paajarvi. “He’s bought in to the way he needs to play to be a really good pro. He’s become a really good player.”
Alexander Steen was awarded a penalty shot at 15:27 of the second period after being fouled from behind on a breakaway, but Rinne gloved down Steen’s wrist shot from the right side.
Steen has converted one of two penalty shot attempts this season, while Rinne has turned aside the two that he has faced.
NOTES: Hornqvist’s assist was the 100th of his career. … Nashville C Mike Fisher has points in five consecutive games, equaling a season high. … The Blues are 34-1-4 when scoring first this season.