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Tootoo's first goal of season propels Predators past Blues 5-4

Tootoo's first goal of the season broke a tie early in the third period, helping the Predators win their fourth straight game with a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

"As an energy player, it's always great to get goals," Tootoo said. "I just try to play my role every game and create some room for us. I went down the wing and shot the puck."

Scott Hartnell scored his fourth goal in three games and had an assist for the Central Division leaders, who are 8-0-1 against the Blues the last two seasons and followed up on a 3-2 victory at Philadelphia on Wednesday. Paul Kariya added his sixth goal and David Legwand got his seventh for Nashville, which won despite getting outshot 42-17.

"We feel like we stole this game a little bit," coach Barry Trotz said. "But we'll take it."

Tootoo said goalie Chris Mason, 3-0 since Tomas Vokoun was sidelined with torn ligaments in his thumb, was the star.

"This was kind of a B-minus, C game," Tootoo said. "We didn't give it our best effort but Mason has been outstanding. Kudos to him."

The game drew an announced attendance of 5,410, the fifth-lowest in franchise history, held down by day-long snow and sleet that hampered traffic. The actual attendance appeared to be several thousand people fewer than that, with some upper-deck sections empty and mere handfuls of fans in some lower-bowl sections.

Lambert International Airport was closed due to the storm and the Predators had to check back into their hotel instead of flying to Chicago, where they play on Saturday. Mason understood why more people weren't watching.

"It's kind of one of those things that if someone's on the fence and it's that bad outside - you know what, it's movie night tonight. We'll just stay in," he said.

Keith Tkachuk's seventh goal ended a four-game drought without a point for St. Louis, which lost its third in a row despite ending an offensive slump. The Blues totalled one goal in their previous two games.

Bill Guerin scored his second goal of the game with 1:13 to go, his first goals in 10 games. The shot total was a season high for St. Louis.

"It was definitely a step in the right direction," Guerin said. "But it's frustrating that we didn't get two points."

Tootoo had only one assist in 23 games before steaming down the right wing and beating Manny Legace with a slap shot between the legs at 5:36 of the third, his first goal since March 24, 2006, at Anaheim. Tootoo leads the team with 35 penalty minutes.

Alexander Radulov tapped the puck out of Legace's glove and into the net with 6:40 to go for a two-goal gap, chasing Legace.

"We should have won 4-1 or 4-2," Legace said. "I just let the guys down. I just showed up with my head in the clouds. I was awful, just plain awful."

Guerin gave the Blues their first goal on a 5-on-3 advantage in seven opportunities all season at 14:29 of the second period, tying the score 3-3. St. Louis ended a 1-for-33 slump overall on the power play and ended a run of 20 consecutive penalty kills by the Predators over five games.

The Blues scored early in the first two periods. Tkachuk connected on the game's first shot at 58 seconds of the first and Jay McClement scored at 2:19 of the second to tie it 2-2.

Notes: D Jay McKee returned for St. Louis and played only his second game of the season. He missed the first six games with a knee injury and then missed 16 games with a broken right hand sustained on Oct. 20 against the Canucks after playing only 1:15. ... The Predators had outscored their opponents 33-11 in the second period before the Blues outscored them 2-1 on Thursday. ... Kariya has two goals and four assists in the last four games.



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