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Associated Press
11/30/2006 11:59:50 PM


ST. LOUIS (AP) - Jordin Tootoo is one of the Nashville Predators' unsung players, leading the team in penalty minutes and ranking second in hits. His go-ahead goal was an unexpected bonus for a fatigued team playing for the second straight night.

Tootoo's first goal of the season broke a tie early in the third period, helping the Predators win their fourth straight game with a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

''As an energy player, it's always great to get goals,'' Tootoo said. ''I just try to play my role every game and create some room for us. I went down the wing and shot the puck.''

Scott Hartnell scored his fourth goal in three games and had an assist for the Central Division leaders, who are 8-0-1 against the Blues the last two seasons and followed up on a 3-2 victory at Philadelphia on Wednesday. Paul Kariya added his sixth goal and David Legwand got his seventh for Nashville, which won despite getting outshot 42-17.

''We feel like we stole this game a little bit,'' coach Barry Trotz said. ''But we'll take it.''

Tootoo said goalie Chris Mason, 3-0 since Tomas Vokoun was sidelined with torn ligaments in his thumb, was the star.

''This was kind of a B-minus, C game,'' Tootoo said. ''We didn't give it our best effort but Mason has been outstanding. Kudos to him.''

The game drew an announced attendance of 5,410, the fifth-lowest in franchise history, held down by day-long snow and sleet that hampered traffic. The actual attendance appeared to be several thousand people fewer than that, with some upper-deck sections empty and mere handfuls of fans in some lower-bowl sections.

Lambert International Airport was closed due to the storm and the Predators had to check back into their hotel instead of flying to Chicago, where they play on Saturday. Mason understood why more people weren't watching.

''It's kind of one of those things that if someone's on the fence and it's that bad outside - you know what, it's movie night tonight. We'll just stay in,'' he said.

Keith Tkachuk's seventh goal ended a four-game drought without a point for St. Louis, which lost its third in a row despite ending an offensive slump. The Blues totalled one goal in their previous two games.

Bill Guerin scored his second goal of the game with 1:13 to go, his first goals in 10 games. The shot total was a season high for St. Louis.

''It was definitely a step in the right direction,'' Guerin said. ''But it's frustrating that we didn't get two points.''

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