ST. LOUIS — A Nashville Predators team that had scored just four goals in its last four games collected what amounted to an offensive tsunami Tuesday at Scottrade Center.
The Predators rolled up a 5-0 lead and pounded out a dominant 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
"Any time we can score more than one goal, I'll take it," said Nashville coach Barry Trotz, whose 4-2-3 team had scored only 12 goals in its first eight contests.
It was the worst home defeat for the Blues (6-3) since a 6-0 loss to Calgary on March 1, 2011 and not exactly the start the club sought to open up a four-game homestand.
The teams were meeting for the third time in nine games, with the Blues winning the first two 4-3 and 3-0.
"We take a lot of pride in this building," said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, whose team had the NHL's best home record (33-6-5) since the start of last season. "It seemed like that pride wasn't there tonight. We tried to do some things to get us going, but it wasn't enough.
"With the shortened season, every point's gonna count and you can't come out flat --especially after three days off --and expect to win against that team."
This was the same gritty, determined Predators team backed by the solid goaltending of Pekka Rinne. But the typically offense-starved Preds had no trouble locating the back of the net Tuesday.
"This is a team loss that has been coming for a little while," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after his team dropped to 6-3. "We're not competing at the level we need to compete at. We're allowing the other team's competitiveness to frustrate us and pushed us into individual hockey rather than team hockey.
"That's the thing we have to address. We have to become a team again, re-form ourselves into a team that loves to play in these type of hard games. We looked like we were discouraged by the level out there."
Blues captain David Backes wondered if it was the case of a team feeling a bit too good about itself after winning six of eight to start the season.
"Tonight they did all those little things that added to a lot of grade-A, back-door tap-ins for them," Backes said. "We were siting on the outside while they were playing on the inside. Not a good recipe to win games.
"They came out and played a good hard road game and we needed to respond and were just a little too late to the party. Too late."
This was the same Blues team that had allowed only seven first-period goals in its previous eight games before being torched for three in the first 20 minutes on Tuesday.
The Blues had allowed five or more goals only twice in their previous 51 home games dating back to the 2010-11 season.
The nightmarish first period began with a tripping penalty on Blues winger Andy McDonald that put Nashville on an early power play.
The Predators capitalized when a shot by Ryan Ellis from a bad angle deflected past Blues goalie Brian Elliott after hitting the stuck of defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
It marked the seventh time in nine games the Blues have allowed at least one power-play goal. The goal also snapped the Blues' home shutout streak of 184 minutes, 54 seconds against the Predators.
The Predators scored three times on their first eight shots, also getting goals from Rich Clune and Nick Spaling.
Clune was camped out on the doorstep when a shot from the slot by Colin Wilson squirted through the pads of Elliott. More misadventures in the Blues' defensive zone led to the next goal as Spaling cleaned up a loose puck and whisked it quickly past Elliott with 47 seconds remaining in the first period.
"They were a step and a half ahead of us for the whole period," Hitchcock said. "They were harder on pucks, quicker to close, checked us to death...they played really sound in the first period and we were not ready for that level, so we got down 3-0.
"We started to play pretty good in the second and then gave up that fourth goal. Then it was over."
Before Tuesday, the Blues had allowed only seven first-period goals in their first eight games.
The first period intermission did nothing to slow the Predators, who increased their lead to 4-0 on a deflection goal by Kevin Klein.
That goal was the end of the line for Elliott, who allowed four goals on 11 shots. He was replaced by rookie Jake Allen, who was making his NHL regular-season debut.
Allen allowed a goal on the first shot he saw. Wilson chipped the puck past Blues defenseman Wade Redden, then got off a shot that deflected off Allen and the right goalpost before landing near the goal line and being knocked in by Gabriel Bourque.