Published January 08, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Nashville Predators shouldn't be surprised about the St. Louis Blues' run to the top of the NHL standings.
The Blues seek to extend a seven-game point streak and sweep their season series with the Predators on Saturday night.
St. Louis came out of the Olympic break in late February with a pair of 1-0 setbacks, but has gone 6-0-1 in seven games since. The Blues had a five-game winning streak halted with an overtime defeat to Dallas on Tuesday, but rebounded two nights later to top the Edmonton Oilers 6-2.
That victory improved the Blues' season point total to an NHL-high 97, good enough for a six-point edge for first place in the Central Division.
St. Louis found itself tied with the Oilers after two periods, but got four goals in the third period to pull away. Jaden Schwartz scored twice in the frame, while Alex Pietrangelo and T.J. Oshie added goals.
"We want to take it game by game," said Schwartz on his team's mind-set regarding the standings. "Make sure we are just getting better. We are all aware of the standings. We don't want to look too much into it and just take it game by game."
Oshie and Vladimir Sobotka both finished with a goal and two assists, with Sobotka's three-point game coming in his return to the lineup after sitting out 12 straight with an injured knee.
Ryan Miller made 22 saves to improve to 5-0-1 with a 1.82 goals against average and .924 save percentage in six starts with the Blues since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres.
Miller is 4-2-1 with a 2.34 GAA in his career versus the Predators, who have not fared well versus the Blues in recent history.
St. Louis has outscored Nashville 16-7 in taking the first four of five meetings this season. That has pushed the Blues' winning streak in this series to five straight and they also have won nine of the past 10 meetings overall.
The Blues have allowed just two goals in their last three trips to Nashville, where they have won five straight.
Though running out of time, the Predators are looking to make a run at a playoff spot and sit seven points back of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. Nashville has won three in a row, finishing off a perfect three-game swing with last night's 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ryan Ellis, Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist all scored, with the latter two netting first-period markers. Roman Josi assisted on all three goals, helping to set up Ellis' deciding tally in the third frame.
The defenseman blocked a shot and sent a pass up the ice to Ellis, who had just come out of the penalty box and was able to race in and score 45 seconds into the period.
"(Josi's) got great vision," Ellis said. "He made a great pass and it all worked out for us."
Pekka Rinne was solid in net by making 31 stops as Nashville matched its longest winning streak of the season. The Predators hadn't won three in a row since Dec. 10-14 and are looking to claim four straight victories for the first time since Jan. 31-Feb. 7 of last year.
Rinne has made five starts since a lengthy absence caused by a hip ailment and is 13-10-4 with a 2.02 GAA in his career versus the Blues. However, the Predators could opt to go with rookie backup Carter Hutton, who is 0-2-1 with a 3.25 GAA in four games (3 starts) against the Blues.