Pick your headline as Predators beat the Blues…

The magic number is now 1.

Tonight, it was The Patric Hornqvist Show.

The most important game of the Predators season has just become the Flames and Avalanche game tomorrow night.

(pick your headline, really.)

Dustin BoydColin Wilson and Steve Sullivan scored as the 15,242 inside Bridgestone Arena were treated to a roller coaster of a game as the Preds beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2.

Hornqvist earned first star honors as he finished the game with the following stat line: three assists, four penalty minutes, a plus-3 rating, a team-leading five shots and three hits. Oh yeah, and he also drew two penalties in the first period alone.

While the story was Hornqvist, Pekka Rinne was at his best tonight, turning aside 31 shots in the victory, including an incredible toe save in the waining moments of the 3rd period to keep the Blues at bay. As has been the norm since the Olympic Break, Rinne was one of Nashville’s best players. The media failed to name him a star of the game, however, which is absolute crock. Without him, the Blues run away with this one early (and late for that matter).

The win is Rinne’s 30th of the season, a new career high.

Blues veteran forward Alex Steen scored his 24th goal of the season with a little help from the officials. While on the power play, Steen backed into Rinne after being bumped by Shea Weber, obviously interfering with the Nashville netminder’s ability to make the save. The officials ruled that Weber bumped Steen into Rinne, resulting in a good goal.

With the win, the Preds magic number becomes 1. Meaning, if the Calgary Flames lose to the Colorado Avalanche Friday night, Nashville officially clinches their first playoff birth since the 2007-08 season. If the Flames manage a victory in Denver, a Predators win or overtime loss against the Red Wings in Detroit on Saturday ends their current one-year post season hiatus.

The Nashville Predators just became Avalanche fans.

For 24 hours anyway.

GAME NOTES:
* Jordin Tootoo, who had just a shade over 5:00 of ice time on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings, was a healthy scratch.
* Along with his 8th goal of the season, Wilson also tallied his first career NHL penalty against the Blues. It was a fighting major. He was also selected as the second star. Again, absolutely robbing Rinne of the deserved honor.
* With the second of his three assists, Hornqvist became the Predators’ first player to eclipse the 50-point plateau this season. Nashville has never made the post season without a 50-point scorer on their roster.
* Nashville registered eight PP shots on goal in the first period alone. We can’t recall (off-hand) when the last time they had eight PP shots on goal in an entire game.
* Before Boyd scored, the Predators were scoreless at home in their last 191:44.
* Shea Weber was credited with five blocked shots.
* Veteran forwards Martin Erat and David Legwand were the only players in a Nashville sweater with a minus-rating (each finished with a minus-1).