The Nashville Predators will try to continue their climb up the standings when they host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
The Predators have won six of their last nine games to edge closer to the final Western Conference wild-card playoff slot. They earned a 4-3 road victory over the Blues on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a really big win for us,” said Predators forward Kyle Turris, who scored one goal and assisted on two others Saturday. “We’re battling in the standings and trying to make up ground, so to start the back-to-back off with [a win], this was really important.
“It’s going to be a really important game tomorrow night, too.”
Sunday starts a stretch of seven of eight games with the Predators at home at Bridgestone Arena, where they are just 12-11-4.
Meanwhile, the Blues are trying to break out of a prolonged funk, a task made tougher by the loss of key defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to a heart condition.
“We’re not worried,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said. “We’ll get back on track. We’re a confident group in here. We’re going to find a way.”
The Blues are just 2-6-3 in their last 11 games.
“We just have to keep working,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “We were competitive (Saturday), we worked hard. We did a lot of good things. We just have to keep building. You go through stretches like this. Every team does. You have to climb through, be mentally tough. You have to go through adversity at times.”
He believed the Blues weren’t far off their game while losing to the Predators for the third time in as many tries this season.
“I thought we outplayed them second and third period,” Berube said. “For the most part, I thought we were the better team, but we ended up short. They were better than us in the first 10 minutes.”
Predators coach John Hynes agreed with some of that assessment, but stressed his team’s ability to finish the job.
“I thought we had a very good first, they obviously had a good second period, but I really liked the fact that we had good mental toughness, good focus on the third period and we found a way to win the game,” Hynes said. “That’s the most important part of this time of year.”
Hynes saw this home-and-home rivalry series as an opportunity for his team to dig deeper. Sure enough, Saturday’s game was contentious.
Predators winger Filip Forsberg fought Schenn, and Nashville defenseman Jarred Tinordi battled defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.
“You’re going to be in a lot of games like this down the stretch where teams are fighting for points,” Hynes said. “Games get more and more intense, particularly teams that are fighting for playoff spots. I like where we’re headed in that direction, mentally, with the victory.”
Predators forwards Viktor Arvidsson (first goal in nine games) and Matt Duchene (second goal in 14 games) broke out of scoring slumps Saturday. Juuse Saros won the game in goal, so Nashville may come back with Pekka Rinne in net.
For the Blues, forward Zach Sanford continued his offensive surge by scoring his seventh goal in his last six games. Jake Allen took the loss, so Jordan Binnington could draw the start Sunday.
–Field Level Media