(KSDK Sports) -- Perhaps the game plan for the St. Louis Blues Saturday night and throughout this season should be to chase opposing goalies from the game before the end of the first period. That is just what the Blues did in Thursday's 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators. Preds starting goalie Pekka Rinne was gone less than 10 minutes into the first period.
To do the same tonight against the Florida Panthers, the Blues will once again need to score early against goalie Tim Thomas, who made a triumphant return to the League on Thursday, and could be in line for a second consecutive start.
The talk during the preseason was that this cannot be just another season where the Blues, with all their young talent, are just steps away from contending. No, this season they are contenders, or at least they are on paper.
They certainly looked the part on Thursday night. David Backes had a goal and assist in the first period to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday in the season opener for both teams.
The Blues scored three times in the first 9:45 to jump in front 3-0 and chase Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.
Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves for the Blues and improved to 9-3-3 against the Predators.
Injury report: Florida forwards Nick Bjugstad (concussion), Steven Pinizzotto (hip) and Sean Bergenheim (hip/abdomen) are on injured reserve. Defenseman Ed Jovanovski (hip) is day-to-day. Goalie Scott Clemmensen (knee) is expected to report to San Antonio of the American Hockey League for conditioning purposes.
Panthers: It was all about the old and the new in Florida's 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center that got the season off to a flying start.
Thomas, who turns 40 in April, stopped 25 of 27 shots in his first NHL game in over 17 months and first not wearing a Boston Bruins sweater. Veteran Scott Gomez scored the opening goal for the Panthers, but with the team trailing 2-1 in the third, Aleksander Barkov, the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, became the youngest player in 69 years to score an NHL goal. That tied it, and a pair of late goals from Marcel Goc made the difference.
"It had a lot of aspects to it," coach Kevin Dineen said of the win. "Our young players coming through and making a difference, a really nice goal, our veteran guys stepping up when they needed to. It was a mixture of things. That was a hard-fought win."