After a grueling but successful March, the Nashville Predators hope they have enough energy heading into the playoffs.
The St. Louis Blues are holding out hope of simply reaching the postseason.
The Predators look to bounce back from their latest loss Thursday night with a third straight win over the visiting Blues, who seek their fourth straight victory.
An 11-5-1 record in March is a big reason Nashville (44-28-6) is fifth in the Western Conference and on the verge of clinching a playoff spot after missing the postseason in 2008-09. The Predators, who set a franchise record for wins in a month, could have that playoff spot secured by the end of the weekend.
Nashville, however, has looked a little tired while losing two of three. A 2-0 home loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday marked the second time in three games that the Predators have been blanked.
“I don’t think our energy was where it needed to be, mentally or physically,” defenseman Dan Hamhuis(notes) said of the Predators’ latest defeat. “It has been a long month, and the schedule lightens up here in the next week to re-energize.”
The Predators hope that will happen in their final four games, two of which come against a St. Louis (37-30-9) team that’s 10th in the West and still mathematically alive for a playoff spot.
Nashville also would like to improve on a power-play that’s 1 for 23 over the last 10 contests.
“This time of year, it’s tough to score,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “There aren’t many inches, so you have to grind it out.”
The Predators haven’t had much trouble scoring on the Blues, posting seven goals in the last two victories. Though Nashville won all three meetings at St. Louis this season, it’s dropped two straight and three of four at home over Blues. St. Louis won 3-1 at Nashville on Nov. 27.
The Blues have won five of seven to keep their slim postseason hopes alive.
“Obviously, we need help,” said Steen, who has a career high 23 goals. “But we do our part, and we’re giving ourselves a chance.”
St. Louis could be without star forward Paul Kariya(notes), who suffered a lower-body injury against the Blackhawks. Another former Predator, Kariya had two goals and two assists in his previous three games before the injury.