ST. LOUIS – Keith Tkachuk scored two of St. Louis’ four power-play goals , leading the Blues to a 5-2 season-opening victory over the Nashville Predators on Friday night.
Brad Boyes and David Backes also scored with the man advantage for the Blues, who won their season opener for the first time since 1996 and ended a five-game losing streak against Nashville. St. Louis, last in the NHL with a 14.1-per cent success rate last season while finishing 14th in the Western Conference, was 4-for-6 overall on the power play.
The Blues, who are using five forwards on the power play after star defenceman Erik Johnson’s season-ending knee injury before training camp, scored four with the man advantage for the first time since Jan. 1, 2004. They need 24 power plays over five games to score get four last season.
Ryan Suter and Joel Ward scored for the Predators, who play their home opener on Saturday against the Stars.
Lee Stempniak, Paul Kariya, Andy McDonald and David Perron, one of three Blues players age 20 or younger, added two assists apiece. The Blues had been winless in the previous 10 openers, including two overtime losses, since opening with a victory over the Avalanche in 1996.
The 35-year-old Tkachuk was honoured during a first-period stoppage for his 500th career goal, an empty-netter in the finale last season and his 27th overall. He tied it midway through the opening period, zinging a one-timer past Dan Ellis, and the Blues took the lead for good 33 seconds later on defenceman Barret Jackman’s quick shot from the left side at 13:18 – their only even-strength goal of the night.
Tkachuk was whistled for three minor penalties, the only blemishes on his night.
The Predators scored on the game’s first shot, when Suter beat Manny Legace on a 3-on-1 break, but the Blues built a three-goal cushion entering the third.
Notes: Predators C Radek Bonk, day to day with a hip flexor injury, was scratched. … The Blues opened at home for the first time since 2002. They’ll play eight of their first 10 games at home. … Boyes, a 42-goal scorer last season, has seven goals in nine games against Nashville the last two seasons. … Jackman was helped off the ice midway through the second, although he limped to the dressing room on his own. … Blues backup goalie Chris Mason, who played for Nashville, will start Saturday night on the road against the New York Islanders.