ST. LOUIS (AP) – Even though St. Louis has already clinched a playoff spot, Alexander Steen wants the Blues to keep up the intensity.
Steen scored the tiebreaking goal early in the second period, David Perron had a goal and two assists, and the Blues beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 Sunday.
“We were really emotionally invested in the game today,” Steen said. “We’re pushing ourselves to play a better game. We need to crunch down and play the way we want to play.”
“We’re not gonna talk about Stanley Cup right now, but every team that gets in has a chance for it,” Perron said. “In the end, it’s definitely the goal, but it’s building step by step.”
Vladimir Tarasenko and Joel Edmundson also scored, and Jake Allen stopped 35 shots as St. Louis earned at least at point for the ninth straight game (7-0-2). Allen improved to 9-1-2 with two shutouts and 16 goals allowed his past 12 starts.
Ryan Johansen scored for Nashville and Juuse Saros finished with 21 saves. The Predators, 8-4-0 in their last 12, had won four of the last five meetings with St. Louis before taking a loss that kept them from earning a playoff spot. Nashville needed one point in the game to clinch a berth, but can still qualify if Los Angeles doesn’t win against Arizona later Sunday.
The Blues hold a two-point edge and the tiebreaker over Nashville. St. Louis rests in third place while Nashville is fourth in the division.
“It was a big game. This has been on our schedule for a while,” Allen said. “We knew it was going to come down to between us and Nashville there for the race in the standings. We were ready. We played well.”
With the score tied 1-1 after one period, Steen knocked in a loose puck from the left side of the goal 55 seconds into the second. Saros deflected a pass by Perron and Steen pounced, scoring his first goal in 10 games.
“Steen’s goal was a momentum swing,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “They’re a good team. They’re going to generate chances. That’s a good line. I thought that was one that pushed it a little bit in their favor. … Their goalie (Allen) made some big saves. You’ve got to give him some credit as well.”
Perron scored on a wrist shot that sailed under Saros’ arm at 6:47 to make it 3-1. It was St. Louis’ third goal on just 13 shots.
“A real strong game by Perron,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “On his first shift, the puck comes around and it’s a 50-50 battle and he hands down won that battle. I had a good sense he was ready to go.”
Edmundson had an unassisted goal at 8:11 of the third to cap the scoring.
The Blues struck first for a 1-0 lead at 5:22 of the first when Tarasenko scored his 37th goal. Jaden Schwartz fed Tarasenko, who snapped a wrist shot from the left circle.
Tarasenko has thrived under Yeo, scoring 21 points including 15 goals since Yeo was hired Feb. 1. Tarasenko has nine goals and five assists in the past 14 games.
Nashville had a two-man advantage midway through the period when Edmundson (tripping) and Perron (slashing) went off at the same time. The Predators cashed in when Johansen lifted a rebound over a sprawled Allen at 11:22 to tie it.
Saros made his second career start against the Blues. He was in net when Nashville shut out the Blues in St. Louis, 4-0, on Dec. 30.
“It was a couple of tough goals there (in the second period),” Saros said. “It felt like we were into the game but bounces didn’t go our way today.”
NOTES: Predators LW James Neal and D Yannick Weber are day-to-day with upper-body injuries. Both were scratched Sunday. … Blues D Robert Bortuzzo was scratched. He suffered an upper-body injury in the second period Friday at Colorado and did not return. The Blues have recalled defenseman Petteri Lindbohm and forward Kenny Agostino from Chicago of the American Hockey League under emergency conditions. … The Blues are 19-7-2 since Yeo took over as head coach. … Nashville G Pekka Rinne, who is 6-2-0 and has allowed 14 goals the past eight starts, was given the day off after shutting out Minnesota 3-0 on Saturday for his 43rd career shutout. … Steen moved into ninth place on the Blues’ all-time scoring list with 162 goals. … Filip Forsberg assisted on Johansen’s goal, giving him 100 for his career.
Blues: Host Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
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