ST. LOUIS (AP) — Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne loves playing against the St. Louis Blues.
Calle Jarnkrok scored his second goal in two games and Rinne made 29 saves as the Predators beat the Blues 2-1 on Wednesday night, snapping their season-high three-game losing streak.
“I don’t want to jinx anything,” Rinne said. “I think that’s a good team, one of the top teams in the league. I think we match up pretty well. It’s never about me. I think as a team we did a good job in front of me.”
Craig Smith scored his 13th of the season for the Predators, who leapfrogged the Blues to take over first place in the Central Division with 49 points.
“I thought we were a little loose in the first period,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought we gave up too many shots, too many attempts. I don’t think we played a very clean first period. I thought we cleaned up our game in the second period and that reduced the shots on net and the attempts on net and the amount of time that we spent in the defensive zone.”
Vladimir Sobotka scored his first goal in nine games for St. Louis. Jake Allen made 24 saves, but the Blues lost for the sixth time in their last eight.
“We have to be better,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “There’s no excuses. It’s not just going to be something where we flip the switch. We’re going to have to build back the mentality that we are a hard-attacking offensive team with the mindset of doing things a certain way.”
The win continued a pattern of dominance for Nashville, which topped its division rival for the sixth time in their last eight regular-season meetings. The Predators also eliminated the Blues in the second round of last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs in six games.
Smith deflected Roman Josi’s shot past Allen to give the Predators a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. It was Smith’s first goal in his last five games.
“I think Roman (Josi) got the puck and I think he was waiting for us and I stopped at the net,” Smith said. “I didn’t know if he was going to go back or shoot, so he shot and I got a stick on it.”
Jarnkrok’s one-timer made it 2-0 with 3:11 left in the second. Filip Forsberg, playing in his 300th career game, got an assist.
Sobotka deflected Kyle Brodziak’s shot to get St. Louis on the board with 6:23 left in the third period.
“I thought Rinne made some good saves, but in the same breath we’re not making it hard enough on him, getting more activity around the net,” Brodziak said. “It’s just where we’re at as a group. We’re having trouble scoring against every team right now.”
The goal snapped Rinne’s shutout streak against the Blues at 151 minutes, 48 seconds, which dated to Dec. 13, 2016.
“There were a lot of shots for them that came from their points,” Laviolette said. “The first shift of the game I think they fired four or five shots from the points and one of them ends up going off the post, but I thought he (Rinne) was extremely sharp.”
Rinne had a shutout in St. Louis earlier this season.
“It’s funny how sometimes you have some buildings for a little bit,” Rinne said. “I tried to extend it (the shutout streak) for as long as I can.”
NOTES: The Blues announced a four-year contract extension for GM Doug Armstrong with a club option for a fifth year. … Predators GM David Poile believes D Ryan Ellis (knee surgery) will play his first game of the season within the next two weeks. … The Blues scratched RW Chris Thorburn, D Jordan Schmaltz and C Ivan Barbashev. … The Predators scratched D Anthony Bitetto, RW Miikka Salomaki and LW Cody McLeod.
Predators: At the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
Blues: At the Dallas Stars on Friday night.