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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, March 21st (All times eastern)

Nashville Predators (41-26-5) at St. Louis Blues (34-28-9), 6 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The surging Nashville Predators will aim for a sixth straight victory when they visit the rival St. Louis Blues for tonight's Central Division battle at Scottrade Center.

The recent hot streak has helped solidify Nashville's playoff chances as the Predators enter Sunday with 87 points, tying them with Los Angeles for the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Nashville is still 10 points in back of Chicago for the Central lead with just 10 games left.

Meanwhile, St. Louis, which has won two straight, is six points behind Detroit for the conference's eighth and final postseason berth.

Nashville earned its fifth consecutive victory Saturday night, edging visiting Columbus in a defensive battle. Predators rookie defenseman Cody Franson scored 1:54 into overtime to lift the Preds to the 1-0 win at Bridgestone Arena.

In the extra session, Franson snapped a shot from the right point that squeezed through Columbus goaltender Steve Mason and trickled across the goal line.

Franson's tally came moments after Pekka Rinne robbed Blue Jackets veteran blueliner Mike Commodore with a nifty glove save. Rinne stopped 33 shots to record his second consecutive shutout and sixth of the season.

Rinne is riding a shutout streak of 132 minutes, 36 seconds and could get his sixth straight start today.

"(My consecutive shutouts) go hand-in-hand with the team," Rinne said. "I think the team's really playing well defensively. Early on, (Columbus) had some really good chances, but after that we really got it going."

The Predators have blanked opponents three times during their current five- game winning streak.

Tonight, Nashville will be without center Jason Arnott, who did not make the trip to St. Louis after sustaining an apparent head injury in Saturday's win. Arnott is tied for second on the team with 44 points this year.

The Preds are 20-14-3 as the visiting team this year and have won three of their last four road games.

St. Louis is back home after a successful two-game tour of the New York area. The Blues posted a 4-3 win over the Rangers on Thursday and blanked the New Jersey Devils, 1-0, on Saturday.

Ty Conklin made 29 saves to record his fourth shutout of the season in Saturday's victory over the Devils. Alexander Steen was the only player who found the back of the net, beating New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur late in the first period with a slap shot.

"It's amazing what he's able to do," Blues head coach Davis Payne said of Conklin. "You talk about being on the bench for a while and then all of a sudden getting thrown into the fire and being able to perform like that. It takes a guy with a great focus."

The win was the ninth in the last 12 games for St. Louis. However, the Blues are just 12-17-5 as the host this year and will close out March with four of five games on home ice.

The Predators have won two of three against St. Louis this year and have taken four of six overall in the series. Nashville also has won three straight and five of its last seven on the road against the Blues.

03/21 10:40:27 ET

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