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Predators offense explodes for six goals in win over Blues

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- Scoring goals has not been easy for the Nashville Predators so far this season, but that changed in a hurry Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues.

After scoring a total of 12 goals in their first eight games this season, plus two shootout goals, the Predators erupted for six goals on 19 shots on goal to earn a 6-1 victory over the Blues.

Six different Nashville players scored, with Martin Erat getting a goal and two assists, and Colin Wilson contributing three assists as Nashville enjoyed its biggest offensive night of the season.

"Offense can sometimes be mental and if you get guys on the board and feeling good about themselves it can be good for the long run and can be another steppingstone for our team," Wilson said.

The night got off to a poor start for the Blues when Andy McDonald was called for a minor tripping penalty 55 seconds into the game, setting up a power-play goal by Ryan Ellis. That goal broke Nashville's 0-for-17 streak on the man advantage and was the sixth power-play goal allowed by St. Louis in its last 16 short-handed situations during a four-game span.

Goals by Rich Clune and Nick Spaling increased the Nashville lead to 3-0 after the first period and the onslaught continued in the second period. Kevin Klein's goal 9:09 into the period made it 4-0 and knocked out St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott. It was the first time in his St. Louis career he has been pulled from a game.

Elliott was replaced by Jake Allen, making his regular-season NHL debut. But he had no more luck than Elliott, giving up Nashville's fifth goal on the first shot he faced, by Gabriel Bourque, one minute after he entered the game. Erat added the Predators' final goal in the third period.

"They were a step and a half ahead of us the whole first period," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. "They played really sound in the first period and we were not ready for that level so we got down 3-0. We started to play pretty good in the second but gave up the fourth goal and it was over.

"This is a team loss which has been coming for a little while. We're not competing at the level we need to compete at. We're allowing the other team's competitiveness to frustrate us and push us into individual hockey instead of team hockey. That's the thing we have to address. We have to become a team again."

It was a rare offensive explosion for the Predators, who had averaged only 1.5 goals per game this season and had not scored more than three goals in any one game. They were shut out 3-0 in their previous game this season in St. Louis.

"Any time we can score more than one goal right now I'll take it," said Nashville coach Barry Trotz. "I thought we came out in the first period and did what we wanted to do.

"We sort of frustrated St. Louis a little bit and we capitalized on our chances. They didn't get the big save early and that got us off to a good start. We got up 5-0 but I didn't feel comfortable because these guys have great character. They are well coached and I said, 'Boys this could turn on a dime, stay with it.' "

The Blues, who suffered their first loss at home in four games this season, got on the scoreboard in the second period on Alex Pietrangelo's power-play goal. That turned out to be the only goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, who stopped the other 31 St. Louis shots.

"Maybe it was a case of us feeling too good about ourselves after eight games and us being at home where maybe some of us thought we play well regardless," Blues captain David Backes said. "The preparation wasn't there. ... We've got to learn from it. Hopefully it's a lesson learned that there are no nights off and no taking it easy. We were just not as ready as they were and it showed."

NOTES: Elliott will be in goal for all of the Blues games this week because of a groin injury that has forced Jaraslov Halak onto the injured list. Allen was recalled from Peoria to serve as Elliott's backup. ... Entering the game, the Predators had not scored a goal in St. Louis in 182 minutes, 44 seconds, a streak that dates back to Dec, 30, 2011. ... Five of Nashville's eight games prior to Tuesday night had gone to a shootout, the most in the NHL. ... The game ended a seven-game road trip for the Predators, who will return to Nashville for only the third time this season Thursday night, hosting Los Angeles.
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