Martin Erat and Steve Sullivan scored two goals apiece to lead the Predators to a 6-3 victory over the Blues on Saturday night.
Nashville beat St. Louis for the sixth time this season – and 14th straight overall – with the first five victories this season coming by one goal, including three in overtime.
“We’ve had some success against the Blues,” Sullivan said. “I don’t think it’s the Blues. It’s our style of play.”
The Predators rallied from a 2-1 deficit after the first period with goals from Sullivan and Jason Arnott in the first 5:45 of the second.
Sullivan scored on a two-man advantage – the game’s only power-play goal – 2:15 into the period. He took a cross-ice pass from Paul Kariya and easily put the puck past goalie Curtis Sanford to tie the score at 2. Arnott, who got an assist on Sullivan’s goal, gave the Predators the lead for good after he tapped in his 17th goal of the season.
Erat added his first with one minute left as the Predators pulled away for its 10th win in 11 games.
“That was a momentum shift big time,” said Sanford, who faced 24 shots. “That goal was the backbreaker. He put it off the post and in.
“But NHL goalies stop those and unfortunately I didn’t stop that one.”
It was exactly the backbreaker that coach Barry Trotz looked for entering the game. Both entered as two of the hottest teams in the league. The Blues had won seven of eight, including four straight, and the Predators nine of 10 and three straight.
Although the Blues had been playing better with more confidence under coach Andy Murray, who took over in December, Trotz believed they would falter if the Predators kept pushing.
“We wanted to work on their belief system and make them not believe as much and the guys came through tonight,” Trotz said.
St. Louis pulled to within a 4-3 deficit on Petr Cajanek’s goal late in the third before Erat and Sullivan answered. Erat’s second goal of the game came 32 seconds after Cajanek scored and Sullivan notched his 17th score of the season with an empty-net goal with less than two minutes left.
The game continued a physical battle the two teams have had for most of their games this season. The Blues received the only penalty in a first period that was filled with hard hits and led to a second period that saw 16 penalty minutes.
The teams traded quick scores in the first. Scott Hartnell scored his team-high 19th to give Nashville a 1-0 lead only to see the Blues tie the score 13 seconds later on Lee Stempniak’s 16th of the season. Hartnell got past Eric Brewer to tap it past Sanford off assists from Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
The public address announcer didn’t have time to recap the score before the Blues struck back. As they went into the Nashville zone, Stempniak passed the puck to Jay McClement who returned it to a wide-open Stempniak who knocked in the tying goal.
Notes: Nashville recalled D Mikko Lehtonen and reassigned F Alexander Radulov to Milwaukee of the AHL. … The Blues announced a crowd of 16,346, marking the first time since the lockout they have had at least 16,000 in three consecutive games.