ST. LOUIS -- For years, the Nashville Predators have had one of the best goalies in the NHL in Pekka Rinne. Now they may have one of the best backups as well.
Juuse Saros, a 21-year-old native of Finland, earned the first shutout of his career in his seventh start Friday night in the Predators' 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues.
Saros stopped all 25 shots in his sixth start of the season. In those six games, Saros has allowed a total of seven goals.
"It was really nice and the guys played really good in front of me," Saros said. "I think we just played a really smart game."
Playing their third game in the last four nights, the Predators gave the start to Saros and he responded by handing the Blues only their second shutout of the season, the first at home.
"He was excellent," coach Peter Laviolette said. "He made some important saves throughout the game and he made some big saves at the end of the game.
"This building is not kind to visitors. It's always difficult playing St Louis in our building or their building and they're a good hockey team and tonight we got on the right side of the score early. We haven't been able to do that in a lot of games."
After a scoreless first period, the Predators grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals 2:34 apart by Yannick Weber and Filip Forsberg, Forsberg's goal came on the power play after the Predators earned a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:29 because of two minor penalties on the Blues. He scored on the second penalty, his fifth goal in his last six games.
"We played a good first period, and we really hit the skids went it went 2-0," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We lost our energy, we lost our focus. Disappointing. ... It's the first time we've done that at home in a long time."
Viktor Arvidsson capped the three-goal period with his 10th of the season. The three goals came against Jake Allen, who had been 11-1-2 at home this season. Carter Hutton replaced Allen in the third period and allowed the final Predators' goal, a power-play goal by Colin Wilson.
"It looked like we the ones playing on a back-to-back and not them," Paul Stastny said, knowing the Predators had lost 3-2 to Chicago in Nashville on Thursday night. "Once they scored the two goals, it seemed to take the life out of us. We've got to be better than that."
The Blues had two power-play chances in the first period and four in the game, but could not solve Saros.
"Coming into the season I didn't know that much about him but he's proven it every game and given us a chance to win," Weber said. "I think the last time he played (against New Jersey) he deserved that shutout and I'm happy he got it this time. He might look small in net but he's outstanding when Pekka isn't going for us. He definitely gives us a lot of confidence and like today it's great to see him get that win."
Saros also impressed Hitchcock, who admitted the Blues might have taken the Predators too lightly and were looking ahead to the Winter Classic matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.
"They were hungry, they were desperate, they played for the kid in goal and he played great," Hitchcock said. "He played great early, he played great late. They outplayed us, they outworked us at the puck."
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo did not use the upcoming Winter Classic as an excuse and said the Blues just need to clean up the mistakes they have been making far too often.
"Same thing that we've said all year, we're letting teams score on us," Pietrangelo said. "Teams are going to score, it's the reality of hockey and we're not bouncing back the way we need to. We've got to find a way. Keep saying it all year, it's getting frustrating now, we've got to find a way to bounce back."
NOTES: RW James Neal was in the Nashville lineup despite having to leave Thursday night's game in the second period because of an upper-body injury. ... One day after signing a two-year contract extension, D Robert Bortuzzo was back on the ice for the Blues' morning skate. He is on injured reserve because of a lower-body injury and likely will be sidelined at least three more weeks. ... LW Robby Fabbri became only the second 20-year-old player to record a hat trick in Blues' history on Wednesday night. The other is Hall of Famer Bernie Federko. ... As part of the Winter Classic activities, the Blues and Chicago Blackhawks will have an alumni game on Saturday at Busch Stadium featuring several of the team's legendary players. ... The Predators don't play again until Tuesday night, when they host Montreal.