Nationals

Halak leads Blues to 3-0 win over Predators

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Halak leads Blues to 3-0 win over Predators

ST. LOUIS (AP) Patrik Berglund scored on a penalty shot and goalie Jaroslav Halak bounced back from a poor game to lead the St. Louis Blues over the Nashville Predators 3-0 on Thursday night.

The Blues have won three of four this season, including a 4-3 shootout win in Nashville on Monday.

Vladimir Tarasenko and T.J. Oshie also scored for St. Louis, which has at least one point in 11 of its last 13 meetings with Central Division rival Nashville.

The Predators lost for the first time in regulation this season. They began the campaign with shootout losses to Columbus and St. Louis.

Halak, who made 13 saves, was pulled three days earlier after allowing three goals on 11 shots in Nashville. He rebounded to record his second shutout of the season and the 24th of his career. Halak made 14 saves in a 6-0 win over Detroit on Jan. 19.

Tarasenko, who made it 3-0 in the third period, has four goals and two assists in four games.

Berglund was hauled down from behind by Mike Fisher midway through the second period.

Berglund also scored on a penalty shot Jan. 24, 2012, in a 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh.

Oshie poked in a rebound of a drive by David Perron to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. The power-play goal was the Blues' seventh of the season in their first 11 chances. Oshie has three goals in four games.

St. Louis had 18 of the game's first 22 shots on goal and held Nashville without a shot for a stretch of 16:10 in the opening period.

Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne had lost only once in regulation in his previous seven games against St. Louis.

The Blues improved to 4-1-1 in their last six games at home against Nashville. The Predators have not scored in the last 182 minutes, 44 seconds of regulation play in St. Louis.

NOTES: Nashville is on a seven-game road trip, tying a franchise record, that ends Feb. 5 in St. Louis. The Predators also played seven successive road games from Oct. 30 to Nov. 12, 2002. ... St. Louis D Wade Redden played his first NHL game since April 11, 2010. He was signed by the Blues on Jan. 18. ... Predators RW Patric Hornqvist has five goals and eight assists in 19 games against the Blues. ... St. Louis is a league-best 32-6-5 at home since the beginning of last season.

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MLB Rumors: Josh Donaldson could reportedly end up with a four-year contract

MLB Rumors: Josh Donaldson could reportedly end up with a four-year contract

As the hopes for Anthony Rendon's return to Washington fade fast following Stephen Strasburg's record seven-year $245 million contract, Josh Donaldson comes more into focus for Nationals faithful. 

The Nationals had reported interest in him as far back as mid-November, and if they want to spend big on Strasburg and less on third base rather than spend on Rendon and find a cheaper pitcher, Donaldson represented the most value. 

But every team that misses out on Rendon will probably look right to Donaldson, and that reality is reportedly driving up his price. 

According to Mark Bowman, there is a growing expectation Donaldson will end up with a four-year contract. That might be a problem given he's entering his age-34 season, but for the Nationals, there isn't a major difference between a four-year deal and a two-year deal for Donaldson. 

He's coming off a very productive season in Atlanta, where he hit 37 home runs and drove in 94 runs to go along with a .379 on-base percentage. Realistically, Washington would need at least two years of solid production at third base from him to get ample return on their investment. 

Carter Kieboom figures to be in the mix this season at third or second base, but he's much better suited as a middle-infielder. Then, the Nationals have 19-year-old Luis Garcia on the way as one of their top infield prospects. 

By the time Garcia hits the majors he'll ideally go to third base to join Kieboom and Trae Turner as Washington's infield of the future.

And as Bowman notes, the DH could be coming to the National League by after the 2021 season. If Donaldson can still slug, that's an easy move for him to make and play out the last two years of his deal. 

So while a potential four-year contract can and should cause a bit of sticker shock, the Nationals are constructed where they can take that risk to help their team in the short term should Rendon leave for greener pastures. 

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Stephen Strasburg had a specific request in contract negotiations with Nationals

Stephen Strasburg had a specific request in contract negotiations with Nationals

According to Scott Boras, Stephen Strasburg had a specific request of the Nationals before he signed the largest contract ever for a pitcher. 

"He certainly wanted to make sure that [Nationals Park] was open every day in the offseason so that he can go there and work out," Boras said Monday. 

Per Jesse Dougherty, Strasburg has been working out since mid-November. For reference, the Nationals won the World Series on October 30. No days off. 

It's no surprise the Nationals granted the World Series MVP's request. Strasburg is coming off the best year of his career, and he wants to make sure he can work out all winter in the park he'll spend the rest of his career? What a difficult decision. 

Strasburg may not be the highest-paid pitcher of all time for long. Gerrit Cole will most likely command more years and a higher AAV from whoever he signs with this winter. 

But the more important thing for the Nationals and probably their fans as well, is that Strasburg will wear the "Curly W" for his entire career. And maybe another World Series trophy is in play with him, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin headlining the best pitching staff in baseball. 

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