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Unbeaten Nashville has St. Louis feeling blue

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Greg Johnson believes the unbeaten Nashville
Predators have yet to reach their potential.

Tomas Vokoun stopped 28 shots, helping the Predators end a
nine-game unbeaten string at St. Louis with a 4-1 victory over the
Blues on Saturday night.

Nashville remained one of the last remaining unbeaten teams,
along with Ottawa, at 5-0-0.

"I still don't think we're played our best game," said
Johnson, who scored an empty-net goal. "I still feel like we can
improve. But we're getting a little better every game."

The Predators won at St. Louis for the first time since Jan. 4,
2001, going 0-8-1 since.

"I think it was a combination of things. The Blues were deeper
than we were and maybe a little tougher, and their power play was
unbelievable," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "But in the last
18 months, the climate's changed a little bit."

St. Louis coach Mike Kitchen credited the Predators for the way
they have built their team for the new season.

"They've got a lot of youth and energy in their lineup," he
said. "They've added some veterans in Kariya and Perreault which
beefs up their offense. They're a pretty solid team."

St. Louis, 1-4-0, is off to its worst since 1977-78 when it lost
its first six games and went 0-8-1 before getting a win.

The Predators took a 1-0 lead 6:37 into the first period on
Steve Sullian's fourth goal of the season, as he beat Patrick
Lalime on a high wrist shot for his 10th point.

The Blues tied the game 1-1 at 5:58 of the second period on
Jamal Mayers' third goal. Christian Backman skated down the left
wing and put a pass on stick of Mayers, who had slipped behind
defenseman Danny Markov, and he wristed in a shot by Vokoun.

The Predators then scored two goals to take a 3-1 lead heading
into the third period.

David Legwand scored from the right circle at 12:57, picking up
a pass from Paul Karyia on top of the faceoff circle and sending a
wrist shot just under the crossbar. With 23 seconds left Scott
Hartnell scored on a slap shot from the top of the right circle.

"It was one of those where you tip the hat," Lalime said about
Hartnell's goal. "It was a great shot. He just beat me. That's the
way it goes."

Blues captain Dallas Drake said St. Louis can't afford to play
sloppy.

"All three goals came on turnovers," Drake said. "They took
advantage of us. We've got to find a way to not turn the puck
over."

Nashville had just six shots on goal in the third period.

"They say the worst lead in hockey is a two-goal lead going
into the third period," Vokoun said. "You can't sit back and let
them keep coming at you. I thought we did a good job of skating and
continuing to play in that third period."

Nashville got an empty-netter from Johnson at 18:33 of the third
period.

The Blues, who outshot Nashville 29-24, went 0-for-4 on the
power play.

"Our power play struggled," Kitchen said. "It didn't give us
any momentum at all."

Game notes
Blues LW Keith Tkachuk, back after missing three games with
a groin strain sustained in the season opener, was taken off the
ice at 14:48 of the second period after getting hit by a stick in
the midsection. He did not return until the start of the third
period. ... Nashville entered the game with the top power play in
the NHL, but were stopped on seven attempts by the Blues. For the
season, Nashville is 7-for-28 on the power play. ... The Blues'
Barret Jackman skated his 100th career game.