Nichol's pair lifts Preds past Blues for first time in four tries this season

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Scott Nichol is not counted on to score goals, especially when the Nashville Predators center is responsible for killing penalties

Nichol's two short-handed goals in the second period proved pivotal for the Predators in a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

"It's nice when you can chip in that way because you're not really expecting it, especially with their power play." said Nichol, who has fourth goals this season, "You just want to try and kill [them] off. And we had a couple of good, lucky bounces. We'll take those. They seemed to be going the other way the last few games. It's nice for them to bounce in for us this time."

J.P. Dumont, David Legwand and Jason Arnott also scored for the Predators, who beat the Blues for the first time this season in four tries. Jarred Smithson assisted on both of Nichol's goals. Chris Mason made 24 saves.

The Blues dropped their fourth in a row (0-3-1) and have been outscored 21-9 during the skid. Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes had goals, and Paul Kariya recorded two assists.

"I think we lacked effort in certain areas," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "This game was a lot about effort and determination. In our opinion, our effort and determination wasn't strong enough."

Nichol scored each of his goals in the second period when the Predators broke open a 2-1 game and grabbed a four-goal lead.

Nichol netted his first when he skated in from the neutral zone and beat Manny Legace from a low angle in the left circle at 5:34 of the second.

"To me, we had certain situations where we didn't respond properly," Murray said.

Arnott's 17th of the season at 15:06 gave the Predators a 4-1 lead and chased Legace after the St. Louis goalie allowed four goals on 15 shots. He was replaced by Hannu Toivonen.

"I just played terrible. That's all," Legace said. "It was awful. Three goals never should have went in. The first goal was a good tip. The next three were just horrible goals, especially that third one. It just deflated our team. I can't allow that."

Nichol scored again with 18.1 seconds left in the second, beating Toivonen to a loose puck near the right circle and sliding the puck into an empty net.

"I really thought, obviously, the turning point was the second period," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We did a lot of good things and we played a good road game."

Dumont gave the Predators a 1-0 lead 6:37 into the first period when he deflected in a wrister from the left point by Ryan Suter on Nashville's second shot.

McDonald tied it with a power-play goal at 10:23, his ninth of the season and fifth since being acquired by the Blues from Anaheim on Dec. 14.

Legwand put Nashville back in front with a bad-angle goal from the left corner at 15:09. The puck somehow found its way in off the right side of Legace's body at the near post.

"We had a real good first period, which on the road is very tough to do on this rink because the Blues, they come out hard and fast," Trotz said. "I thought we matched their intensity real early so it was a solid game from us."

Game notes
Fans were entitled to free hot dogs, chicken fingers, popcorn, chips, soft drinks and bottled water from the moment gates opened at noon through the end of the second period. The Blues also ran the promotion on Jan. 13, 2007 against the Los Angeles Kings. Nichol has six short-handed goals in his career. ... Legace played despite injuring his right forearm in the first period of a loss Wednesday at Chicago. The Predators scored two goals in their previous two visits to St. Louis. Boyes has five goals in four games against Nashville this season. The teams will meet again on Monday in Nashville. It marks the second time this season they will play a home-and-home series. The Blues swept the first on Nov. 17 and 19.