The Blues have scored a combined four goals in their last four games at Scottrade Center after losing 2-1 to the Predators on Wednesday night. (Scott Rovak/St. Louis Blues) 

By Rob Rains

When a team is struggling to score goals, the last thing they want to see is a hot goalie such as Pekka Rinne in the opposing net.

That’s exactly what happened for the Blues in Wednesday night’s game against the Nashville Predators at Scottrade Center.

Rinne, who shut out the Blues in the team’s only previous game this season, came within seven minutes of doing it again before the Predators settled for a 2-1 win that moved them past the Blues and into first place in the Central Division.

The Predators lead the Blues by one point but also have played three less games than the Blues.

Rinne stopped 29 shots by the Blues, giving him 63 saves on 64 shots in the two games in St. Louis this season.

“Of course these are big division games and you really try to get ready for it,” Rinne said. “For both teams, preparation wise it was different coming straight from the break which was nice to have but it's also tough to come back and have that mental preparation. I thought we handled it pretty good.”

The Predators got goals from Craig Smith and Calle Jamkrok to take a 2-0 lead before Rinne lost his bid for his fourth shutout of the season and 47th of his career on a goal by Vladimir Sobotka with 6:23 left in the third period.

The win broke a three-game losing streak for the Predators (0-2-1) before the Christmas break, their longest of the season.

“It's longer than we would have liked,” Rinne said. “You don't want to get stuck in those streaks. It can be really hard to get out of those and it was big. We talked about it before the game. I think the break was kind of good timing for us. Had a chance to sit back and relax and spend some time with the family. We knew that coming in that was a big game. We didn't want to go (losing) four in a row.”

Rinne’s performance was one of the biggest factos in the win.

“He was really good,” said Predators coach Peter Laviolette. “There was a lot of shots for them that came from their points. The first shift of the game I think they fired four or five shots from the points and one of them ends up going off the post, but I thought he was extremely sharp.”

The Blues knew going into the game it would be tough to score goals against Rinne, but the way they have been playing of late, especially at home, made it an even greater challenge.

The Blues have scored a combined four goals in their last four home games going 1-3 in that stretch. Overall, they have scored a combined 13 goals in their last nine games.

“We’re having trouble scoring,” said Kyle Brodziak. “It’s something we’re trying to figure out as a group, what we’re doing and what we’re not doing well. When you’re having trouble scoring you tend to try to make an extra play or more complicated than it needs to be, we’ve just got to find a way. It’s just a feeling we’ve got to get as a group to get to the net.

“It’s a mindset but it’s a confidence thing too. We’re not feeling too good about our offensive game right now. We’ve just got to keep working at it and get that mojo going again.”

Coach Mike Yeo admitted he was getting frustrated, primarily because he knows the Blues are a better offensive team than they have showed lately.

“I just think we are better than that,” Yeo said. “The way we scored the goal was an example of the way we need to do things more frequently. We’re not performing offensively at the level we can. It’s hard to win when you score one goal.

“We have to be better. There’s no excuses. It’s not just going to be something where we flip the switch. We’re going to have to build back the mentality that we are a hard attacking offensive team with the mindset of doing things a certain way. We were scoring goals at a pretty good number earlier in the year, and when things went dry I think we’ve gotten away from some things and we have to get it back.”

Against a goalie such as Rinne, however, the Blues found that hard to do.

“We expected it to be this type of game,: Brodziak said. “I thought Rinne made some good saves but in the same breath we’re not making it hard enough on him, getting more activity around the net. It’s just where we’re at as a group, we’re having trouble scoring against every team right now.”