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AT THE MORNING SKATE
Taking a break from sticks and pucks Sunday, the Oilers were back on the ice for morning skate at Bridgestone Arena Monday.
Tonight's line-up will look different from the line-up that faced the Blue Jackets Saturday night: after sitting out the last contest, Kurtis Foster, Colin Fraser, and Ryan Jones will don their game jerseys tonight vs. the Predators. To balance out the numbers, Steve MacIntyre, Jean-Francois Jacques, and Jason Strudwick will watch from the press box. Devan Dubnyk is slated to get the start in net.
Foster admitted he wasn't pleased about being a healthy scratch but said he respects head coach Tom Renney's decision.
"Last game was a bit of a surprise for me," he said. "I haven't talked to Tom yet about what exactly it was about, but I know he will come to me and I'll know what's ahead of me tonight.
"It's frustrating, but at the end of the day, it's part of the game. It's coach's decision who's on the ice for games and you've got to make sure that he wants you in every night."
When addressing the media, Renney explained the scratches were "performance-based" but wouldn't elaborate further.
"Certainly I liked the look of our team the other night, the size and strength that we had and sort of that persona that we projected," he said. "Tonight we have a little different look again. I think we can play to certain strengths that this line-up provides us as well."
At the end of morning skate, captain Shawn Horcoff assembled and addressed the players at one end of the ice. Foster shed some light on the peptalk:
"Basically (Horcoff said) that we have 30 games left. We've been playing okay hockey but okay is not good enough anymore. We've got to win some games. Last game I thought and a lot of guys in the room think that we kind of got nervous having the lead in the third period. We've got to do a better job of pulling out those wins.
"I think he just kind of reiterated that, you know, Tom's been pretty good to us," Foster continued. "They gave us a lot of help on all the things we need from a coaching stand, and now it's up to us to get some wins for this team."
Renney echoed Foster's sentiments.
"At the end of the day, after the equals sign you want to see wins," the coach said. "I can tell you right now that these guys have got a great attitude, and that's a testimony to their leadership, to say the least, and also their ability to keep their eye on the ball and realize they're going to be part of something that's a bigger picture at the end of the day.
"Our goals are maybe a little different than a lot of teams in this league. We're going to be spoiler, we're going to upset people, we want to make sure that we can make a mess of things out there and feel good about our game at the same time," he added. "We just have to make sure that we put ourselves in a position to win every night and if we continue to do that, we'll get our wins."
The quest for two points continues tonight vs. the Predators, and Foster is expecting a solid effort from the opposition.
"If you look at their line-up, they don't have guys that are going to scare you when you go out there, but they all play a solid hockey, a good two-way hockey," he explained. "I think that we've got to come out tonight and kind of get in their face, make sure they know it's going to be a tough game and going to be a good skating game, use our speed and try to get as many shots on (Pekka) Rinne as we can."
-- Jen Sharpe, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (15-29-8) at PREDATORS (28-18-7)
Last 10: Edmonton 1-8-1; Nashville 5-4-1.
Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. Nashville earned a 3-2 victory at Edmonton on Jan. 23.
Big Story: It's been a rough stretch for the Predators, but they finally got back on track Saturday night when they notched a 3-0 win against the Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena. It snapped a four-game winless streak for Nashville, which enters Monday's action in fourth place in the Western Conference.
"We did enough good things to win," captain Shea Weber said. "I still think we gave up too many chances, but (Pekka Rinne) was really good for us tonight."
Oilers: Despite jumping ahead to an early 2-0 lead and carrying a 3-2 lead into the final 10 minutes of regulation, Edmonton failed to hang on and suffered a 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday night. The Oilers have now lost four in a row.
"We handed it back to them … we handed it right over," Edmonton coach Tom Renney said. "We were a little bit sloppy. I didn't like that at all. Our power play killed us, no question about that. But we were still in the hockey game. Then we handed it back in the third period with some bad decisions."
Predators: Slowly but surely, Nashville is improving on the power play. Since going 3-for-34 with the man advantage over a nine-game span, the Preds have converted three times on their last 10 opportunities.
The penalty kill has also been sharp, turning aside 24 of the last 27 chances. Detroit went 0-for-5 on the power play Saturday night, including a 5-on-3 chance that lasted two minutes in the second period.
"The guys that were out there did a great job in terms of the battle," Predators coach Barry Trotz said after his club snapped a four-game skid. "We forced them to make a couple of unforced errors, got a save, a big draw and a couple of whistles. Those all count and eliminate that power play."
Who's Hot: Oilers forward Sam Gagner has a three-game point streak (1 goal, 3 assists). … Preds goalie Pekka Rinne has allowed two goals or less in 12 of his last 14 appearances, while Weber has a four-game point streak (2 goals, 2 assists).
Injury Report: Oilers winger Gilbert Brule is day-to-day with the flu. Ryan Whitney (knee) is out for the season. … Nashville will be without Francis Boullion (upper body), Marek Svatos (lower body), Cal O'Reilly (leg), Matthew Lombardi (concussion) and Jordin Tootoo (personal reasons).
Stat Pack: Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has lost 13 games in a row. … Preds forward Sergei Kostitsyn is two points shy of 100 in his career.
Puck Drop: "We had lost four games in a row. It was about time we turned it around. We did what we had to do." -- Preds goalie Pekka Rinne
-- Brian Compton NHL.com