Miller, Blues battle Preds in Music City

( - Ryan Miller has had some early struggles in his first two games with the St. Louis Blues, but has also watched his offense rally to victory each time.

The Blues go for a third straight victory on Thursday night when they visit the Nashville Predators.

St. Louis has won both games since getting Miller and forward Steve Ott in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres last Friday. The netminder won his Blues debut 4-2 on Sunday despite giving up a goal just three minutes into the game and facing a 2-0 deficit going into the third period.

It was more of the same in Miller's home debut on Tuesday as Miller was bested twice in the first period by the Tampa Bay Lightning before going perfect over the final 40 minutes in another 4-2 win.

Miller needed to make just 15 saves to get the win. Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie scored in the second period, the latter shorthanded, and Alexander Steen netted the game-winner 3:47 into the third period.

Vladimir Tarasenko added an empty-net tally to a win that moved the Blues two points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division.

The move to get Miller was seen as a major push for deep playoff run that should excite the city of St. Louis.

"In Buffalo, I really liked to form a relationship with the fans and the people and I'm looking forward to doing that here," Miller said after making his first start in front of the St. Louis faithful.

Steen's goal was his team-leading 29th of the season and he also had an assist, as did Oshie. Jaden Schwartz and David Backes each had two assists for St. Louis, which is 5-2-1 in its past eight games.

Miller is likely to start tonight and is 3-2-1 with a 2.57 goals against average in six previous meetings with the Predators.

Nashville is 1-3-0 on a six-game homestand that began just before the Olympic break and lost its second in a row on Tuesday with a 3-1 setback to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That has the Predators six points back of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

The club's playoff chances did get a boost on Tuesday with the return of netminder Pekka Rinne, who made 16 saves in his first NHL action since Oct. 22. Rinne had missed the previous 51 games due to an infection in his surgically-repaired hip.

"It's great to be back because it's been a long time so it meant a lot to me," said Rinne. "Especially being at home in front of the crowd, it felt good tonight."

Patric Hornqvist had the lone goal of the game for the Predators, who made a pair of trades on Wednesday.

With Rinne back in the mix, Nashville traded goaltender Devan Dubnyk to the Montreal Canadiens for future considerations. The Preds had acquired Dubnyk from the Edmonton Oilers in January to help man the crease while Rinne recovered.

Nashville also moved 33-yard-old forward David Legwand to the Detroit Red Wings for winger Patrick Eaves, forward prospect Calle Jarnkrok and a draft pick. Legwand was tied for the club lead with 40 points through 62 games, notching 10 goals and a team-leading 30 assists.

A former No. 2 overall pick of Nashville in 1998, Legwand is the franchise's all-time leader in games (956), goals (210), assists (356) and points (566).

Eaves, 29, had just two goals and five points in 25 games this season with the Red Wings.

Rinne is 13-9-4 with a 2.02 GAA in his career versus the Blues, who have bested the Predators in the first three of five meetings this season and eight of the last nine overall.

That includes a 6-1 victory by St. Louis in Nashville on Oct. 26, the club's fourth straight win as the guest in this series.