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Preds top Blues, complete perfect four-game homestand

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- When the Nashville Predators need timely scoring, they usually don't look for Scott Nichol. However, he's been coming through lately.

Nichol scored the first two goals in a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Monday night, including an unassisted shorthanded goal on a breakaway. On Saturday night against the Calgary Flames, he had the game-winner in a 9-4 rout.

"We have needed big goals in our last couple of games, and he has gotten them for us," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "He plays with a lot of energy. He is a feisty type of guy. You need all kinds of players to be successful as a team. He is part of a
good mix."

Hampered by injuries for much of the season, Nichol's three goals, his only scores of the season, are evidence he is back on track.

"I think Scott has caught up with the train," Trotz said. "When you miss a lot of games due to injuries, it forces you to catch up. He is a little old-school. He has a good work ethic. He is all about the team."

Paul Kariya and Kimmo Timonen each added power-play goals as Nashville completed a perfect four-game homestand.

The second period was the key for the Predators. Nichol beat St. Louis goalie Patrick Lalime to his stick side with a high wrist shot at 4:08 for a shorthanded goal.

Kariya scored less than two minutes later on the power play. Steve Sullivan saw Kariya skating towards the net from the right side and passed the puck to him from the left circle. Kariya tapped in the shot to Lalime's left side.

Timonen scored at the 14:14 mark of the second period, shooting a wrist shot that went high above Lalime's outstretched glove to make it 4-0.

St. Louis got on the board with four seconds left in the second as Scott Young connected from the top of the slot, ending a flurry of shots against Nashville goalie Chris Mason.

Jay McClement capped the scoring with 21 seconds left in the game.

"We were in it," St. Louis coach Mike Kitchen said. "Nashville's power play is dangerous. They move the puck around so well, and they have so many different looks. They're looking to move the puck through the seams all the time from side-to-side. It's keeps you on your toes."

Mason, making his first start of the season at home, stopped 28 shots. He had not played since March 1 at Chicago, a loss.

"Chris did a real good job of preparing himself," Trotz said. "That is a tribute to his work ethic. It is very difficult to not play for such a long time and then come in and be as sharp as he was. Things don't happen in practice the same way they happen in
games. It was really important for our guys to play well in front of him."

Game notes
Kariya has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in his last 12 games. ... Kariya's assist on Nichol's goal set a new franchise record for a season with 44, eclipsing the old mark set by Cliff Ronning in the 2000-01 season. Kariya's 69 points also set a new team high for points in a season, beating Scott Walker's 67 during the 2003-2004 season... Mason's last win was Jan. 8 at
Chicago.