Can the Nashville Predators win their second straight game tonight? (PHOTO: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports)

Gameday: Nashville Predators at St. Louis Blues, 1/24/13

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

at ST. LOUIS BLUES

January 24th, 2013
Scottrade Center
St. Louis, Missouri
7:00 p.m. CST
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee

The Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues meet tonight for the second time in this young NHL season. St. Louis came away from Bridgestone Arena with a 4-3 shootout win on Sunday but have since lost to the Chicago Blackhawks. Nashville also notched its first victory, taking down the Minnesota Wild 3-1.

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, beaten by Alex Steen of St. Louis

Alex Steen’s shootout goal was the winner for St. Louis last time around. (PHOTO: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)

ST. LOUIS BLUES

(2-1-0, 2nd in Central)

After riding high on two tough Central Division wins, the Blues came back down to earth against Chicago. They’ve had one day to rest and will have a new face in the mix for tonight.

Key players

Wade Redden is officially a member of the defending Central Division champions now, and his first game will come against the Predators. Redden’s monster contract became an albatross around the neck of the New York Rangers, so he’s spent the last two seasons playing in the AHL. He spent this month skating with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets before being signed by St. Louis; will he be able to readjust to the NHL game quickly enough to help the Blues take a second game against Nashville?

St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk faces the Nashville Predators tonight

Kevin Shattenkirk leads the St. Louis blueline in points with five. (PHOTO: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports)

Others to watch

Who’s in goal? Jaroslav Halak got the start against Nashville last time around but was pulled for Brian Elliott in the second period after giving up a softie to Patric Hornqvist. Elliott finished that game out for the shootout win but then lost to Chicago the next night. Halak would seem to be the starter since he’s had more time off; if so, he’s going to need to be a lot better tonight than he was on Monday. UPDATE: Bleedin’ Blue says it’s Halak tonight.

Vladimir Tarasenko has three goals and two assists in his first three NHL games. He’s on the second line with Andy McDonald and Alex Steen, and Nashville will need to keep this line in check if they hope to leave St. Louis with a win.

Alex Pietrangelo is the Blues’ most highly-touted defenseman, but it’s Kevin Shattenkirk who is tied for the Central Division points lead thanks to his five assists.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

(1-0-2, 3rd in Central)

The Nashville Predators got off the schneid with a win against Minnesota the other night. They’ll be looking to start their first winning streak of the season with some revenge against a St. Louis team that came back for the win on Monday night in Smashville.

Key players

The starter is back in tonight:

After losing two games in a row in the shootout, Pekka Rinne got his first rest of the season during the Minnesota game two nights ago. St. Louis has shown some offensive flair this season that wasn’t there in 2011-12, so hopefully Peks has worked out all the nerves and can find his classic form in St. Louis tonight.

Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber

Shea Weber will be looking to lead the Preds to their second straight win tonight. (PHOTO: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)

Shea Weber has been the defensive presence everyone expects this season, but he’s gone pointless in three games. Nashville Predators fans will be looking for their captain to begin getting rid of those goose-eggs tonight. A goal on the power play, assisted by Ryan Ellis, would be a great start. Actually, just staying out of the penalty box would be good news for Weber. (He has 11 PIMs so far.)

Others to watch

Sergei Kostitsyn had two assists in the opener against Columbus but has been quiet since then. Nashville is counting on his contributions on the top line this season. Will Sergei get his groove back against St. Louis?

David Legwand finally got his first point of the season, scoring a power-play goal in the final minute of the Minnesota game. He can be very streaky, and Preds fans will be hoping he can pile on a few more points tonight.

Bottom line

The Blues are giving up just two goals per game right now, and the Preds are averaging just over that much. Nashville is probably going to need either a lights-out performance in goal or an offensive outburst to win this game. The former seems more likely, but it’d be nice to see both. Whoever walks away with the two points will move into sole possession of second place in the Central Division if Chicago beats Dallas or loses in overtime or a shootout – or a tie for first if the Blackhawks lose in regulation.

What do you think? Can the Predators even the season series with the Blues tonight? Feel free to post your predictions in the comments!

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