ST. LOUIS -- The Blues pushed back the start time for Thursday's season opener 30 minutes. After all of the pregame festivities, it wound up being 50 minutes, as the puck finally dropped at 7:50 p.m.
The rubber then spent the first 10 minutes of the game in the Nashville net.
Showing it was beyond ready to get the 2013-14 season under way, the Blues' offense came out of the gate strong in a 4-2 victory over the Predators in front of a less-than-capacity crowd of 18,851 at Scottrade Center.
That put the cap on a busy sports day in St. Louis, following the Cardinals' 9-1 win over Pittsburgh in Game 1 of the NLDS.
"The Cards scored nine today," Blues captain David Backes said. "We were trying to keep up but couldn't do it."
Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alexander Steen and Vladimir Sobotka scored for the Blues, who picked up two assists from Alex Pietrangelo and 28 saves from goalie Jaroslav Halak to open the season with a victory.
The Blues return to the ice Saturday to face Florida, as part of a five-game homestand to open the season.
Fans -- and media -- spent much of the offseason and training camp wondering whether the Blues could score goals and whom they would come from. Much has been made of the fact that the forward group doesn't have a marquee scorer, rather a broad base of potential contributors.
The offense quickly put that question to rest with three goals in the opening 9 minutes, 45 seconds, and as advertised, the production was a balanced effort.
The adrenaline from a jazzed-up pregame presentation never paused, as Backes scored a power-play goal, and Sobotka and Oshie answered with 5-on-5 goals for a 3-0 lead.
The Blues have been spending quality time on the power play in practice and it paid off just 2:05 into the game. Only three seconds elapsed in the time it took the Blues to win a face-off, have Pietrangelo put a shot on net and Backes clean up the rebound.
Sobotka's turn came next, after he
accepted a heads-up feed from teammate Jay Bouwmeester. Sobotka edged around Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein and beat goalie Pekka Rinne with a backhander 5:43 into the opening frame.
At that point, the Blues had a power-play goal and power-move goal. The club admitted in the preseason that many of its goals this year would be the result of hard-work and less to do with style, but Thursday's third goal by Oshie fit the later category.
Backes fed Alexander Steen, who by making the extra pass to Oshie executed a tic-tac-toe goal for a commanding grip on the Predators. On just six shots, the Blues had their three-zip advantage and amazingly had chased Rinne from the game.
"Three quick goals and just got pulled," Rinne said. "I was not happy with my effort."
So was there a lot of wasted ink and breath regarding the Blues' offensive woes entering the year?
"I guess so," Pietrangelo said. "Tough to pick who's going to score on this team. We score by committee, that's what we do. We've done it the last three years and tonight is no different."
The Blues' grip on the Preds, though, would prove to be looser than it looked.
Midway through the first period, Nashville's Nick Spaling fought off Chris Stewart and Barret Jackman behind the Blues' net and set up teammate Mike Fisher in the slot for the Preds' first goal, cutting their deficit to 3-1.
That was the only goal Halak allowed on 12 first-period shots against. It was his first action since April 1, when Halak left a game in Minnesota with a groin injury.
"I thought Jaro was excellent," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.
The lead nearly grew for Halak, but then it shrank.
Oshie dented the post five minutes into the second period and on Nashville's ensuing possession, David Legwand took a centering pass from Patric Hornqvist and deflected it past Halak for a 3-2 score.
"It was a good pass, I'll give him that," said the defender, Pietrangelo, "but one I want to have back too."
The Predators went on the power play shortly after the goal, but the Blues' PK erased that man-advantage and three others on a perfect night.
It was a near perfect night for the Blues' special teams as the power played netted a second goal for a 4-2 lead with 8:44 left in the second period.
Carter Hutton, who replaced Rinne, had Stewart screening in front of him and that allowed Steen's point shot to sneak through. Stewart admitted that he did not get a piece of the puck.
"Nope, nope ... with the video these days, I don't think you can (claim goals) around here," Stewart said.
The power-play unit had converted two for two at that point and finished two for four.
"I thought our special teams was excellent tonight, especially our penalty killing," Hitchcock said.
Halak, who backstopped the Blues for stretches throughout the game, picked up his first regular-season victory since a 3-0 shutout over Edmonton on March 23.
"It feels great," Halak said. "To be back in, play not an exhibition game and get a win in the home opener (it's good). But it's one game and we've got plenty left. We just have to worry about the next one now."
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