Blues' playoff hopes take hit

Friday, April 2, 2010
Blues goalie Chris Mason looks for the puck through a swarm of players during the second period of Thursday's game against the Predators in Nashville, Tenn. The Predators won 3-2. (Mark Humphrey ~ Associated Press)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators want everything clicking when they hit the playoffs.

Ending a scoring drought on their own ice is a good -- and big -- start.

Steve Sullivan scored the go-ahead goal at 6:05 of the third period, and the Predators beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Thursday night to move within a point of clinching a playoff berth. The Predators trailed 0-2 in the second before breaking a home-scoring drought that had stretched over more than eight periods.

"We're not looking at it saying, 'You need so many points to get in, let's just get to it,"' Sullivan said. "We want to make sure we're playing the best hockey going into the playoffs. If we're just trying to sneak in, it'll be a quick first-round exit, and that's not what we want."

Dustin Boyd and Colin Wilson scored in the second period, and Patric Hornqvist had three assists to become the first of the Predators to 50 points this season. Goalie Pekka Rinne sealed the win by stopping Blues left wing David Perron on a breakaway attempt in the final minute.

Hornqvist got his third assist by flipping the puck down the ice. He said he was tired and trying to clear the puck. Sullivan tracked it down. He wristed the puck between former teammate Chris Mason's outstretched glove and the post to put Nashville ahead with his 16th goal this season.

Sullivan called it a lucky bounce of the puck that resulted in his breakaway goal.

"It was probably beneficial to me since Mase didn't have a chance to get set and read what I was going to do because it took me so long to get control," Sullivan said.

Alexander Steen scored a power-play goal, and Andy McDonald had a goal for St. Louis, which had a three-game winning streak.

"We pretty much needed to win out," Blues forward David Backes said. "It's not entirely over, but it made our road just that much harder. We still have five games to play ... we will hopefully win all five and get out 10 points and with help from other teams have a shot."

The Blues came in hoping to play their way into the postseason just as they did a year ago in finishing 7-1-1.

But Nashville is trying to clinch its fifth playoff berth in six seasons and can do it if Calgary loses tonight at Colorado or the Predators win Saturday in Detroit.

Boyd tipped in a shot from Cody Franson with 11:12 gone in the second to pull Nashville within 2-1.

Wilson tied the game at 2-2 with 3.5 seconds left in the period when he picked up a loose puck in front of the net and fired it past Mason.

"That had to hurt them," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "It gave us a boost."

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