NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Pekka Rinne showed no signs of a letdown following his milestone 300th victory.
Rinne made 27 saves for his sixth shutout of the season and the Nashville Predators earned a 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
The Predators starting goalie moved into 33rd place on the NHL’s career win list, passing former Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun.
The Predators won their fourth straight game and moved into sole possession of first place in the Central Division.
The Blues lost their sixth straight.
“We scored four goals, but I thought that we had plenty more chances and good looks,” Rinne said.
“The biggest thing for me is we did a great job defensively and didn’t give them too much. They have some very good players and had a few good looks but other than that, we did a really good job.”
Austin Watson, Colton Sissons, Kevin Fiala and Scott Hartnell scored for the Predators. Watson has scored four goals against the Blues in as many games this season.
“Maybe I get lucky against the Blues, I don’t know,” Watson said. “It’s a Central Division opponent. It’s a rivalry game for us. They always have a good team. It’s always a physical battle. I think that gets the juices flowing a little bit.”
The Blues have scored just seven goals during their six-game losing streak and have been shut out in consecutive games. Overall, St. Louis has not scored a goal in the past 140:24.
“I think we’re obviously a pretty frustrated group right now, having trouble scoring goals,” Blues center Kyle Brodziak said. “It’s tough. We’ve got to find a way. Whatever it is we need to do — talk about it, work on things — we’ve got to find a way to be better.”
The Predators have outscored their opponents 19-5 during their four-game winning streak. Nashville has scored a combined eight goals in the first periods of those games, including two against the Blues on Sunday.
Nashville swept the four-game season series from St. Louis, outscoring the Blues 13-4.
“We have a pretty good rivalry with them, so any time we can kind of assert our dominance against them, we’re all for it,” Sissons said. “We’ve been in some tough battles with them throughout the season and years prior, but it feels good to put them away like that at home.”
The Preds grabbed a 1-0 lead just 4:45 into the opening period when Sissons took a pass from Kyle Turris and zipped a short-range wrist shot past Jake Allen.
Nashville doubled its advantage with 5:39 left in the first when Fiala hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. Turris carried the puck in deep on a 2-on-1 break, then fired a wrist shot past Allen to the far side.
“Full credit to the guys,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said of the game’s 11 a.m. Central starting time.
“It’s a different scenario. You’re waking up early just to eat something that you might not want to eat that early in the morning and getting ready for the game that warmups are starting at 10:30. When the puck dropped, they were ready.”
The Blues have found themselves all too often trying to rally during the current losing streak.
“We can’t sit around and hope something magical is going to happen,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “We’ve put ourselves in a hole and we’ve got to get ourselves out of it right now. It’s pretty simple.
“The way to do that is number one, as coaches, we’ll look to see what we can do adjustment-wise, making any changes we need to make. But ultimately, it’s going to come down to work. That’s the only way.”
The Predators struck early in the second period, with Hartnell scoring a goal for the third straight game. Calle Jarnkrok spun near the goal line and sent a pass through the crease to Hartnell, who blocked the puck in with his skate.
The Predators added a fourth goal later in the period. Watson scored on a short-handed breakaway attempt, putting the Predators ahead 4-0.
NOTES: The Predators traded forward Pontus Aberg to Edmonton for forward Mark Letestu, then sent Letestu to Columbus for a fourth-round draft pick. … Predators forward Craig Smith picked up an assist on the team’s second goal, extending his points streak to seven games. He has two goals and five assists during that stretch. … Nashville is expected to add center Mike Fisher back to the roster on Monday. … St. Louis forward Nikita Soshnikov, acquired from Toronto for a fourth-round pick earlier this month, made his debut for the Blues, playing on a line with Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund.
Blues: At Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Predators: At Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
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