The St. Louis Blues missed a chance to get out of the Western Conference cellar for the first time in nearly two months. Given the Blues’ recent history in Nashville, that move might have to wait again.
The Blues (22-25-6) look to improve their recent fortunes in Nashville on Thursday when they face the Predators (25-26-3), who have cooled off after a four-game win streak.
A 6-2-3 mark in the last 11 games has St. Louis close to climbing out of last place in the West for the first time since Dec. 13, but the Blues blew a chance to do so Tuesday, losing 6-4 to visiting Vancouver. St. Louis blew a 3-1 lead in the second period and gave up three unanswered goals in the game’s final 9:12.
The Blues failed to move past Colorado, which was one point ahead of St. Louis and didn’t play Tuesday.
“It’s the kind of game that rips your heart out,” coach Andy Murray said. “It’s a real tough one to lose.”
The Blues have suffered a number of tough losses in Nashville, where they’re 2-7-4 in their last 13 games. St. Louis, however, defeated the Predators 1-0 in a shootout Nov. 25 at the Sommet Center, giving them three straight wins in the series.
The Blues have been much better offensively of late, scoring 20 goals in going 3-1-2 in their last six overall. Brad Boyes has helped lead the scoring surge, recording four goals in his last three games to give him a team-leading 24.
The Blues could get a further boost from the return of center Andy McDonald, who had a goal and an assist against Vancouver in his return from a broken left leg that kept him out 35 games. McDonald led the Blues with 18 points in 16 games before getting injured.
“Probably my timing is a little bit off and I’m a little bit slow making decisions,” said McDonald, who signed a four-year, $18.8 million extension Monday. “But I was excited to be out there.”
The Predators have lost two in a row and are coming off a 5-3 loss to Detroit on Tuesday, when they gave up 51 shots.
“We showed them way too much respect and gave them way too much space,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We stood and watched way too much.”
Pekka Rinne made a career-high 46 saves but had his three-game win streak snapped. He yielded more than three goals in a start for the first time since Dec. 29.
Rinne, who’s supplanted Dan Ellis as the team’s top goaltender, has allowed two goals or fewer in 15 of his last 22 appearances and recorded four shutouts. He gave up four goals in three starts during the Blues’ four-game winning streak.
Jason Arnott saw his four-game goal streak end Tuesday, but extended his point streak to five with an assist.
Four of the last nine meetings in Nashville between the Blues and Predators have gone to a shootout, and another was decided in overtime.