EDMONTON - A shorthanded goal by Lennart Petrell and an insurance marker by Jordan Eberle 4:55 later snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period, propelling the Oilers to a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators Sunday night at Rexall Place.
Coming in, the Oilers were 0-6-1 when tied after two periods.
"I was pleased that the group came to play like this today and that our specialty teams decided the game," said Head Coach Ralph Krueger. "That was a good thing for the group.
"The patience of sticking with the game plan was truly there for 60 seconds. The belief was strong on the bench. I could feel good energy even when they tied the game up."
With the win, the Oilers pass the Predators and move into 10th in the Western Conference with an 11-11-6 record (28 points) after collecting seven of a possible eight points in the past four games. They're now only two points out of a playoff spot.
"You can't think beyond the big picture," said Krueger. "If you look at the standings, there's insane parity here in the West. You have to take care of your own business and there's no point in looking at anybody else. It's what we're doing and we're going to be all about San Jose now for three days."
Making his 10th straight start, Dubnyk had to be sharp early on as 10 Nashville shots were directed his way in the opening 20. One of the Predators' best chances came off the stick of Gabriel Bourque as he whipped a wicked one-time shot from the high slot, but Dubnyk made a glorious glove save to preserve the 0-0 score as the visitors raced out to an early 6-0 shot advantage.
The Oilers registered their first shot on goal at 10:13 as Jordan Eberle scooped up a loose puck along the side boards and walked in alone, but Pekka Rinne got a toe on it as he stretched out to deny the attempt along the goal line.
The only power-play of the period was awarded to the Oilers at 14:10 as Craig Smith was sent off to serve a roughing minor, but the home side was unable to generate a shot.
With Mark Fistric caught deep late in the period, the Predators bolted back on a 3-on-1. With a lifetime to pick his spot as Nick Schultz defended, Roman Josi snapped a shot that rang off Dubnyk's blocker side post.
Nashville led 10-6 in shots after one.
"We know playing a team like Nashville, they like to keep it a close game," said Taylor Hall, who picked up an assist in the win. "They don't give you a whole lot of space out there, so we took what we could and as the game wore on, we were able to make more plays and we backed them up by putting pucks deep and let our scorers take over.
"We wanted to play our game. We had to play intense. We saw against Detroit that we sat back, even for a couple seconds and they took advantage. We wanted to go play in their end, force the play to them and we had a couple shifts that took the game over.
"Those are momentum-changers."
"We weren't quite at the compete level we would shave liked to have been at," said Head Coach Ralph Krueger. "It was a pretty even period, but we wanted to pick it up a little bit after the break. 5-on-5 in the second period, we played much better. We gave them a bit again with those two shorthanded situations, but we recovered well."
The Oilers went back to the power-play at 7:18 of the second period as Ryan Ellis was charged with dangerously cross-checking Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Less than a minute into the advantage after the Oilers had already tested Rinne with several high-quality chances, Paajarvi scored his sixth of the season to make it a 1-0 game.
Up 13-11 in shots with 8:11 to play in the middle frame, the Predators went to their first power-play of the night as Ales Hemsky was assessed a holding the stick minor.
The Predators got their revenge moments later, however. A questionable slashing minor to Schultz at 15:09 put the visitors back on the power-play; Shea Weber launched a bullet up and over Dubnyk to square the score on Nashville's 15th shot.
The Oilers took control early in the third with a dominant, minute-and-a-half-long shift that resulted in multiple scoring chances. Rinne and the Nashville defence stemmed the tide, however, and the 1-1 game continued.
At 9:30, Justin Schultz was sent off for delay of game (puck over the glass). Shorthanded, Sam Gagner led an odd-man rush with Petrell, who blasted home a bullet after No. 89's cross-ice pass precisely connected at the far circle.
Sergei Kostitsyn wore the goat horns on that one after an ill-advised change led to it.
"I didn't know if my shot is even rated," laughed Petrell, answering a question about whether or not he thought his shot was underrated. "I guess it is now.
"I saw something happen there," he added about Kostitsyn's poor play. "I didn't know if Gags baited him or what happened there, but on the replay I saw him going to the bench."
Jordan Eberle made it a 3-1 game at 15:48 as he burst down the wing and snapped a quick shot past Rinne, snapping an 11-game slump without a goal.
"You want to be a guy that contributes to the team and scores goals. I love to put the puck into the net," said Eberle. "It's nights like these where you really love playing hockey.
"More so than anything, it was a big goal for our team. It gave us that cushion to have that lead with four minutes left and protect the lead. We've been struggling, tied, going into the third period, so it was nice to cap this one off."
Josi scored with 8.4 seconds left, but it wasn't enough as the Oilers won 3-2 and improved to 11-11-6 on the season.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick
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