(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Blues opened their Central Division title
defense with a bang and they'll try to keep rolling on Monday when they visit
the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
The Blues, who finished five points ahead of Nashville last season to win
their first division title since 1999-2000, destroyed the Detroit Red Wings,
6-0, in the season opener for both teams on Saturday. The Red Wings had won
nine of the previous 10 Central Division titles before St. Louis claimed the
title in 2011-12.
St. Louis was led by rookie Vladimir Tarasenko on Saturday, as the highly-
touted Russian tallied two goals in his NHL debut. Tarasenko was the 16th
overall pick of the 2010 draft and was coming off a strong showing in the KHL,
recording 31 points in 31 games for SKA St. Petersburg in 2012-13.
Chris Stewart also added a pair of power-play goals to help the Blues rip the
visiting Red Wings at Scottrade Center.
"You look at Tarasenko and he did some special things," Stewart said. "You can
tell he's going to be a special player in this league for a long time."
T.J. Oshie registered a goal and two assists, while Patrik Berglund also lit
the lamp for the Blues, who were swept in the second round of the Western
Conference playoffs last year by the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings.
Jaroslav Halak turned away all 14 shots he faced to notch his 23rd career
The Blues went 4-for-5 on the power play in the win, while killing off four
Detroit opportunities with the man advantage.
The Predators will try to rebound from a loss after dropping a shootout
decision to Columbus in Saturday's home- and season-opener. Derick Brassard
supplied the game winner in the sixth round of a shootout for the visiting
Blue Jackets, who earned the 3-2 decision.
Martin Erat and Ryan Ellis each scored for the Predators, who were eliminated
in the second round of the playoffs for the second straight season in the
2011-12 campaign. Nashville defeated Detroit in the opening round last spring
before losing to Phoenix.
Pekka Rinne stopped 26 shots in Saturday's defeat.
"Obviously we're working on things in practice, but it's not the same as the
game," Nashville defenseman Shea Weber said. "As the season goes on, we have
to get better period by period and game by game."
After Monday's home test, the Predators will embark on a seven-game road trip
that is set to begin Tuesday at Minnesota.
The Predators won four of six encounters with St. Louis last season, but the
Blues took the two most recent meetings. The Blues have won three of their
last five contests in Nashville.
The Sports Network