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Saros gets first career shutout as Predators beat Blues 4-0

December 31, 2016

St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, shoots on Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Juuse Saros made a strong case for more playing time Friday night.

The 21-year-old from Finland got his first career shutout, Filip Forsberg had a goal and an assist and the Nashville Predators beat the St. Louis Blues 4-0.

Saros made 25 saves and impressed Predators coach Peter Laviolette.

“He made some important saves throughout the game and he made some big saves at the end of the game,” Laviolette said.

Saros, playing in just his seventh career game, won for the second time on the road. He’s allowed more than one goal once in six games this season and could begin to push veteran Pekka Rinne for a greater share of the team’s starts.

“Coming into the season, I didn’t know that much about him, but he’s proven it every game and given us a chance to win,” defenseman Yannick Weber said. “I think the last time he played (against New Jersey) he deserved that shutout, and I’m happy he got it this time. He might look small in net, but he’s outstanding. When Pekka isn’t going for us, he definitely gives us a lot of confidence.”

Weber, Viktor Arvidsson and Colin Wilson also scored. The Predators have won three of their four meetings against the Blues this season and snapped a five-game losing streak on the road against St. Louis.

Mike Ribeiro had a pair of assists to run his points streak against the Blues to five games.

Jake Allen allowed three goals on 14 shots before giving way to Carter Hutton to start the third as the Blues fell to 14-3-4 at home. They entered the game with points in 16 of their last 17 at the Scottrade Center.

The Blues outshot the Predators 9-6 in the first period but couldn’t convert on a pair of power plays. Saros stopped Jaden Schwartz’s shot from the slot on the Blues’ first man advantage and followed that with a blocker save on Vladimir Tarasenko.

Saros kept the Blues off the board with a glove save on Robby Fabbri’s shot with five minutes left in the second, and he stopped Kyle Brodziak on a breakaway midway through the third.

“It’s kind of like, they’re not going to give up easily so you’ve got to stay sharp to the end,” Saros said.

Weber snapped a shot past Allen to put the Predators up 1-0 at 4:52 of the second period. It was Weber’s first goal in 80 games, dating to April 9, 2015 against Arizona.

“It was a nice pass play by (Craig) Smith,” Weber said. “If you get that opportunity you’ve got to put in the back of the net.”

Forsberg gave Nashville a 2-0 lead, banging in a rebound from Ribeiro’s shot on the power play at 7:26. It was Forsberg’s fifth goal in six games.

“It seems like once they scored that one goal or two, for some reason it took the life out of us, which I don’t know why it does that,” Blues center Paul Stastny said. “We’ve got to be better within a group of 20 guys to find that energy, especially on home ice.”

Arvidsson used some nifty stick-handling to get around Jay Bouwmeester to score his 10th goal, making it 3-0 Predators with 2:24 left in the second. It was Arvidsson’s first goal in nine games.

Wilson scored Nashville’s second power-play goal of the game in the third.

The Blues haven’t won back-to-back games since Dec. 1.

“We’re going to have to have way better 5-on-5 play than what we’re playing right now,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’re sitting there relying on our power play, relying on our penalty kill to win hockey games. We’ve got to create more and we’ve got to give up less. Our 5-on-5 play in the second half of the season drives the bus.”

NOTES: The Blues re-signed D Robert Bortuzzo to a two-year contract extension worth $2.3 million. ... Predators D P.K. Subban (upper body) missed his seventh game. ... Predators F James Neal was in the lineup after leaving Thursday’s game against Chicago with an upper-body injury.

UP NEXT

Predators: Will host Montreal on Tuesday night.

Blues: Will host Chicago in the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium on Monday.

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