St. Louis Blues' Barret Jackman (5) battles with Nashville Predators' Colin Wilson (33) in the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday Dec. 26, 2010 in St. Louis. The Blues won 2-0. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce) By Bill Boyce
Nashville Predators' Joel Ward (29) and St. Louis Blues' Carlo Colaiacovo (28) battle for the puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday Dec. 26, 2010 in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce) By Bill Boyce
Nashville Predators' J-P Dumont (71) slides under St. Louis Blues' Barret Jackman (5) in the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday Dec. 26, 2010 in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce) By Bill Boyce
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves for his fourth shutout and David Backes provided the only offense by scoring twice to help the St. Louis Blues beat the slumping Nashville Predators 2-0 on Sunday night.
The win extended the Blues' winning streak to three games. Halak, who came to St. Louis in an off-season trade with Montreal, has been in goal for all three of those contests. Sunday's shutout was the 13th of his career.
Pekka Rinne stopped 24 shots for Nashville, which has lost four straight. The Predators have scored just three goals in those four contests.
The Blues did not give the Predators any help, as St. Louis was not called for a penalty for the first time in a game since April 1, 2004 against Detroit. Nashville was only whistled for one infraction, and that did not come until 4:47 remained in the contest when the Predators' Joel Ward was sent off for tripping.
Sunday's game was the latest in a long line of close decisions between the Blues and Predators, as seven of the last nine and 14 of the last 20 games between the two having been decided by one goal.
Backes got the Blues first goal without any help. He intercepted a clearing pass at center, skated in along the right boards and then cut to the right circle where he beat Rinne with a wrist shot 1:45 into the second period.
He then scored his ninth goal into an empty net with 16.8 seconds left to clinch it for the Blues.
Notes: Despite allowing just two goals, Rinne is 0-2 after returning to the lineup from a nine-game absence due to a lower body injury. ... St. Louis is 2-0 on its five-game home stand. . . . The loss snapped the Predators' five-game winning streak in St. Louis. ... The game drew 19,150, giving the Blues 18 sellouts in 18 games. ... St. Louis last played a penalty free game on Feb. 11, 1978 in Montreal.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)