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AT THE MORNING SKATE
With Monday's trade deadline comfortably behind them, the Oilers got back into game-day mode with a 35-minute skate Tuesday morning.
Dustin Penner's trade to the L.A. Kings leaves a gap on the top line, and rookie Magnus Paajarvi has been tapped to fill it tonight vs. the Predators.
"There are other candidates that can play up there as well, so I'm not sure that we're going to certainly lock this down as being his opportunity to play there," head coach Tom Renney explained. "He has to make sure that he's an impact player for us under those circumstances too, as young as he is, but he's shown an ability to do that and influence a game, and we're hoping he can pull that off tonight and beyond."
Paajarvi is eager to skate with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky.
"Hemsky's really skilled. He can do a lot of things that no one else can do with the puck, and Horc is really solid both defensively and offensively, so I think I'm just going to focus a lot on myself to get there for them and we can create something."
The 19-year-old Swede has big skates to fill (literally -- Penner is 6'4"), but he won't try to play the same role on the ice.
"He's a big guy who uses his body a lot, and I think I try to use my speed a little bit more. So we'll see how it goes, but I'm going to get out there and go 100% for sure and I'm excited."
Due to Paajarvi's promotion to the top line, Renney has adjusted the remaining combinations for tonight's contest. The other three forward lines are expected to be as follows:
Hall - Cogliano - Eberle
Jones - Gagner - Omark
Jacques - Brule - Reddox
On defence, Theo Peckham continues to suffer the effects of a fight with Boston's Nathan Horton Sunday night.
"I don't know if we call that concussion or not," Renney explained. "He's out of the line-up for now, it's probably day-to-day, so I'm not sure how to qualify that."
As a result of Peckham's injury, the Oilers recalled blueliner Richard Petiot from the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons early Tuesday morning. Petiot was not present at practice is slated to arrive in Edmonton later this afternoon.
Read the press release
Backstopping Petiot and the rest of the Oilers skaters will be fellow call-up Martin Gerber. Devan Dubnyk will watch from the bench after starting the past three contests.
"I think it's important for Gerbs to get a game in," Renney said. "I also think that Dubey needs to know that I have that latitude as a coach when I've got two goaltenders, both capable. That it's not a slam dunk. He was much better against Boston than he was previously against St. Louis. I think that there's some things that we still need to have him look at in order to be prepared for his next start, so it's just coach's decision."
Edmonton's third goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin, continues to sit on the injured reserve after getting an ice chip to the eye last week. The veteran netminder is on the road to recovery, however, and took to the ice for a short stint between the pipes after the main Oilers skate.
"He can't do any heavy lifting, strength work, weight room, or those types of things. He can skate, he can block some shots and get a little bit of work in," Renney explained. "We'll push it a little bit further tomorrow and see how he makes out there."
-- Jen Sharpe, edmontonoilers.com
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Last 10 -- Nashville 4-5-1; Edmonton 4-6-0
Season series -- This is the third of four meetings between the teams this season. The teams split their two prior games. On Jan. 23, Cody Franson scored the deciding goal in the shootout to give the Predators a 3-2 win in Edmonton. On Feb. 7, Devan Dubnyk turned aside all 37 shots and Andrew Cogliano and Jordan Eberle each had a goal and an assist to give the Oilers a 4-0 victory in Nashville.
Big story -- With just two wins in their last seven games, the Predators need wins in a hurry if they want to climb back into the Western Conference playoff chase. They entered the week 10th, but just two points behind fifth-place Los Angeles.
Predators -- Nashville starts what could be a season-defining trip Tuesday, a four-game journey that starts in Edmonton and continues through Calgary, Vancouver and San Jose, and could determine if the team is destined for the Stanley Cup Playoffs or an early start to its summer.
Scrapping its way to a 3-2 home victory against the red-hot Blue Jackets on Sunday, and ending a four-game losing streak in the process, was a nice going-away party.
"It was just desperation," forward Jerred Smithson told the Tennessean. "You're just fighting for points. We had some good chances there in the first two periods and didn't capitalize and found a way to get it done in the third."
Oilers -- Gilbert Brule's goal Sunday against the Bruins gave him goals in three straight games. However, those games have come about seven weeks apart. Sunday's game was Brule's first since Jan. 6 due to injuries.
In his first game, he centered the Oilers' fourth line and played 12 shifts totaling 11:11 of ice time.
"Felt great," Brule told the Edmonton Journal. "First game in two months, you should have some energy."
Who's hot -- Predators captain Shea Weber might be getting hot at the right time. He had a goal and an assist Sunday against the Blue Jackets, his first multi-point game since Jan. 6. … Oilers forward Ales Hemsky has 5 goals and 4 assists in his last seven games.
Injury report -- Predators forward Marcel Goc is out for the season with an upper-body injury, and forward Steve Sullivan is out with a lower-body injury. … Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney is out for the season with an ankle injury, and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is out indefinitely with an eye injury. Defenseman Theo Peckham is questionable after taking a hard hit Sunday against Boston.
Stat pack -- The Predators' 17 road wins are tied for fourth-most in the Western Conference, but they've struggled away from Bridgestone Arena recently, winning just once in their last six road games.
Puck drop -- Blake Geoffrion, the first Nashville native to play for the Predators, was pretty excited to skate out for warmups for his first home game, Sunday against the Blue Jackets. The players even allowed him to lead them onto the ice before the home crowd.
However, when Geoffrion got halfway around the ice, he looked back and noticed he was the only player on the ice. Consider the rookie punk'd.
"I knew it was coming, but it's something you got to do," Geoffrion told the Tenneesean of the prank. "Kind of embarrassing, but that's OK."
Geoffrion played 8:44 on a line with Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo.
-- Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Staff Writer