Preds reach 1st Western final in team history, ousting Blues

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ST. LOUIS (AP) - The St. Louis Blues needed a spark. Dmitrij Jaskin gave it to them.

After finishing with 94 points during the 2016-17 regular season, Nashville swept the heavily favored Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs and then topped the St. Louis Blues in the second round.

Jaskin was inserted into the lineup in place of Alexander Steen, who was sidelined because of a lower-body injury.

The Predators have won nine straight home playoff games since last season and are 8-2 overall in this year's postseason.

"Steener, even though he didn't play, he supported us", he said. "So I think having two games under the belt will help us out a bit going in for the third".

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At the 25-second mark of the third period, Blues forward Jaden Schwartz popped in a game-winning rebound to prevent his team from being eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Jake Allen did his part by making 21 saves, including a key one on Filip Forsberg with 6:11 remaining (Nashville's last shot on goal).

Schwartz pounced on Colton Parayko's point blast, punching it past Pekka Rinne for his fourth playoff goal shortly after an interference penalty to P.K. Subban ran its course.

Should the Blues stave off elimination, Game 6 would occur Sunday in Nashville.

After making it to the second round of the playoffs for the first time, the Predators unveiled a new logo and signed Rinne to a seven year $49 million contract, looking Rinne down as their number one goaltender for the future. "And that's what we asked our guys before the game is whatever happens good, bad, you have to make sure that you come back and you're ready to go out and perform". Jaskin also recorded eight shots, four hits, and two takeaways.

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"Not the way we drew (the series) up obviously, but it's a good opportunity for us to kind of carry the momentum to Sunday and bring this thing back home", Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. The power play was set up when Pietrangelo and Patrik Berglund both took minors with 7:19 left.

"Joey's our No. 1 center, he's our most important guy and every time he's going, the team's playing well", Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. Mike Fisher contributed two gritty blocks of Vladimir Tarasenko blasts as the Preds were able to kill off the two-man advantage and get a great shorthanded opportunity from a streaking Neal coming out of the box as the period expired.

St. Louis has had the lead for 3:51, trailed for 124:43 of 240 minutes played and have been tied for 111:26.

"Out of sync again", Pietrangelo said. "So whoever they play next is going to have their hands full". "(But) we've just find a way to beat Rinne, get a little more traffic.

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