Preview: Oilers at Predators
EDMONTON OILERS (31-26-5) at
NASHVILLE PREDATORS (31-28-4)
Start Time: 6:08 p.m. MST
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Predators Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
LINE-UP UPDATES: At this morning's skate, rookie Liam Reddox was promoted to the top line with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky... Erik Cole, Sam Gagner, and Marc-Antoine Pouliot compose the second line, while Dustin Penner mans the third line with Andrew Cogliano and Fernando Pisani... Jean-Francois Jacques, Kyle Brodziak, and Zack Stortini round out the forwards... Dwayne Roloson to start in net.
|Edmonton's Kyle Brodziak attempts to beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne during the first period of a matinee game between both clubs on Feb. 1, 2009. (Photo by Andy Devlin/EOHC)
by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
The Oilers finished their homestand in the best way possible: a hard-earned win over a division rival to jump back above the playoff wire in the Western Conference.
Now, Edmonton (31-26-5) will try to stay among the pack—if not rise above—when they start a four-game road trip in Nashville versus the Predators (31-28-4) tonight.
The Oilers are 1-2 versus the Predators this season and will look to even the season series in the two clubs’ final meeting of the year and Edmonton’s first game in March. Edmonton lost 3-1 the last time they faced Nashville, coincidentally, in their first game of February. Edmonton will be playing against some tall odds as they are 1-10-0 in their last 11 games against the Predators dating back to the 2005-06 season.
The Oilers had lost four of their last five games before earning an integral win against Minnesota on Saturday night but they’ve lost two straight on the road.
Nashville has played its way back into playoff contention by going 10-4-1 in February which was capped off by an 8-0 pounding over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. The Predators now sit in ninth spot, one point back of Edmonton and Anaheim.
Edmonton will play three more on the road (all eastern Canadian teams—Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal) and be back at Rexall Place on Mar. 12 to open a three-game homestand versus Atlanta.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH: Ales Hemsky
snapped out of his two-game scoreless funk with a goal vs. the Wild. He’s scored 6-9-15 in 19 games vs. the Preds...Liam Reddox
earned second-star honours vs. Minnesota on Saturday night and scored two assists to register his first multi-point game...Dwayne Roloson made a season-high 43 saves last game vs. the Wild. Roloson has started 18 straight games and 36 of 46 games since Nov. 15.
PREDATORS TO WATCH:
Former Oiler Jason Arnott scored a hat trick in his last game and is six away from his career high of 32. He’s got five goals in his last three games and has scored 8-12-20 in 25 games vs. Edmonton...Shea Weber, the only D-Man with 30 points and 140 hits, has scored points in four straight games (3-2-5). He’s got five goals and four assists in 10 games vs. Edmonton and is tied for second among defencemen with 17 goals.
Edmonton—Lubomir Visnovsky (torn labrum) is out; Ethan Moreau(eye) is out. Nashville—Alexander Sulzer (separated shoulder) is out; Scott Nichol (concussion) is out.
Edmonton is 16-19-3-2 all-time versus Nashville...The Oilers lost all four season series games to Nashville in 2007-08...The Predators have not allowed a power-play goal at home in seven straight home games (20 PKs)...Craig MacTavish needs six more wins for his 300th career NHL coaching victory. MacTavish enters tonight's game with a career record of 294-243-99 (.540) in 636 regular season games...Steve Staios needs two assists for 100 assists as an Oiler.
The Other Side - news from nashvillepredators.com
- Preds place 4 in THN Future Watch Top 50 - Four Predators prospects were listed in the The Hockey News 2009 Future Watch Top-50, the most of any team, including 2008 First Round pick Colin Wilson who checked in at No. 4 overall. | Predators Prospect Update (Feb. 27) | ...more
- Trade Deadline Primer - This week features one of the bell-weather events of the NHL season … the annual Trade Deadline. Check NashvillePredators.com for the latest on the Preds maneuverings leading up to Wednesday's deadline. ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- My Five with J.F. Jacques - Family, elegant European cities, and Ultimate Fighter Georges St. Pierre are among JF Jacques' favourite things. Follow the link for his other Top 5's in four unique categories. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
An already successful homestand has helped the Nashville Predators remain competitive in the crowded Western Conference playoff race. Another win over the Edmonton Oilers would move them higher in the standings.
The surging Predators look for a season-high fifth straight victory Tuesday night while trying for their seventh in a row at home over the Oilers.
While seven points separate sixth from 13th place in the West, Edmonton (31-26-5) is currently seventh with 67 points. Nashville, meanwhile, is two spots and one point back of the Oilers.
"It's a tight race," Predators defenseman Shea Weber said. "We're just excited. It's an exciting time of year and it's going to be close all the way through."
With points at a premium, winning at home is a must and Nashville (31-28-4) is making the most of its current opportunity. The Predators have won three in a row to open a five-game homestand that concludes Thursday against Columbus - two points ahead of them in the West.
While Edmonton is 16-14-1 on the road, the Oilers haven't had much success against the Predators of late, especially in Nashville where they last won 5-1 on Oct. 29, 2005.
Nashville has won two of three meetings this season and 10 of the last 11 in the series. Each club, though, has seven goals against the other in 2008-09.
One of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL with 159 goals, Nashville matched the second-highest total in club history with an 8-0 victory over Detroit on Saturday. Jason Arnott had the first hat trick of the season for the Predators, who scored 10 combined goals in their previous three victories.
"Anytime you score some goals you have to realize how you are scoring them," coach Barry Trotz said. "We are moving the puck with speed, we are getting the puck in deep and going to the net hard."
Arnott has scored five of his team-leading 26 goals in his last three games. The former Oiler, though, has been held without a point against them this season.
Rookie Pekka Rinne stopped 30 shots against Detroit for his sixth shutout of the season.
"It's not going to happen every day that you have a game like that," said Rinne, who was 9-2-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average in February.
Rinne has allowed three goals on 77 shots while going 2-0-0 versus Edmonton this season.
The Oilers won 3-2 over visiting Minnesota on Saturday to finish a 2-1-1 homestand. Ales Hemsky
scored his team-leading 20th, Tom Gilbert
had a goal with an assist and Dwayne Roloson made 43 saves for Edmonton, which opens a four-game road trip Tuesday.
"It was the biggest game of the year until Tuesday," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "Nashville is back in. It looks like it could come down to the last week and we'll see who wins the last game of the year."
Defenseman Sheldon Souray
has two goals and an assist this season against the Predators while Erik Cole has a goal and two assists.
Roloson is 22-16-5 with a 2.68 GAA on the season and 1-1-0 with a 2.03 GAA against Nashville in 2008-09.
Edmonton will be without captain Ethan Moreau for an undetermined time after he was struck in the right eye by a high stick from Minnesota's Antti Miettinen late in Saturday's win.