After losing last night to open a four-game road trip, the Edmonton Oilers look for some redemption tonight as they take on the red hot Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators have picked up at least a point in 10 of their last 11 games and have skyrocketed up the standings as a result.
"Any time you play, there's opportunity to learn. Last night we discovered how we can grow and where we need to, quite honestly," said Oilers head coach Tom Renney.
"Tonight we get an opportunity to apply ourselves in a little different manner than we're used to but we need to."
It was a physical game last night, a style of play the Oilers seemed to have a little bit of trouble with. Renney feels the team needs to play with a little bit more jam tonight.
"It's just about being competitive in your own way. Dallas was physical, sure, but nobody got hurt, nobody got carried off on a stretcher. The first thing you need to understand is that you can play this game hard and live through it but we need everyone to apply themselves in that way. Once we do that and once we play to everyone's strengths, we'll be fine."
The physicality for the Oilers, Renney was sure to point out, does not simply extend to defensive play. The team also needs to use that physical style to get more pucks towards the net. The Stars had allowed the highest number of shots per game on average in the League heading into last night's game but the Oilers were able to direct only 18 rubbers on Kari Lehtonen.
"The bottom line for us is we have to counterattack hard. We've got to go to the net hard, we've got to shoot. We have a tendence to try to paint this perfect picture. 18 shots at this level is not going to do it for you."
PLANTE ENTERS THE PICTURE
In an effort to get bigger and perhaps get some more of that jam into the lineup, the Oilers called up Alex Plante
this morning from Oklahoma City of the AHL. Taylor Chorney
was returned to OKC as a result.
"Big body. He has played well for us each time he's come up. We want to have a look at him again and give ourselves a chance to play with a little bigger frame in our end."
Plante has five assists and 48 penalty minutes in 17 games so far this season with the Barons.
"Just approach it like a normal game," said Plante at the rink after just arriving from the airport. "It's kind of nice to just get here on the day of a game. Doesn't give you any chance to overthink it. (I just need to) play like I did down in Oklahoma and try to be simple in our own end and give the puck to our forwards quickly."
Nashville is not one of the most dynamic teams in the League, but Plante knows that any team in the NHL provides a tough task in front of him.
"It's going to be a little bit quicker but the guys have been good with helping me out."
Plante has played one game with the Oilers this season, picking up an assist and a +1 rating against the St. Louis Blues back on October 30. Overall, he has played eight career NHL games with two helpers and an even rating.
"I felt pretty good last time. Every time I come here I feel a little bit better. I hope to build from that but don't want to get too crazy and do things I don't do."
will start in goal tonight, Tom Renney admitted that much, but as for the rest of the lineup he wasn't quite as forthcoming.
Renney was asked directly if Ben Eager
will be returning to the lineup tonight in Nashville.
"Certainly a possibility," he said. "I think that'll be a gametime decision, quite honestly. I'm probably going to skate everybody in the warm-up and then make a decision after that."
The team only had an optional skate on Tuesday with the participants being Magnus Paajarvi
, Lennart Petrell
, Ben Eager
, Anton Lander
, Darcy Hordichuk
and the two netminders.
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
: Edmonton 4-6-0; Nashville 6-1-3.
: This is the second of four meetings between these teams, who last played on Oct. 17 in what would be the Oilers' first regulation victory of the season. That evening, Sergei Kostitsyn opened the scoring for Nashville in the second period before Edmonton came storming back in the third. In the final period, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
earned his first NHL assist on Taylor Hall
's tying goal and Ryan Smyth
gave the Oilers a lead two minutes later before Ryan Jones
sealed a 3-1 victory with an empty-net goal.
: While the Predators have earned at least one point in ten of their last 11 games, the Oilers snapped a four game losing skid with an offensive outburst of epic proportions Saturday night. In a 9-2 thrashing of Chicago, Taylor Hall
had his second NHL hat trick and Nugent-Hopkins dished out five assists as four different Oilers collected four or more points in a game for the first time since 1991.
: After their historic stomping of Chicago, the Oilers embarked on a four-game road stretch that began Monday night in Dallas. Apparently their remarkable scoring touch didn't make the trip. Against the Stars, Edmonton mustered just 18 shots, including four in the third period, and never found themselves in a game against a determined Stars squad that beat them 4-1.
appeared up to the challenge, stopping 31 Dallas shots, but only Nugent-Hopkins was able to get the puck past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen. The loss was Edmonton's fifth in their last six games and undid most of the momentum achieved in their early-season six-game win streak.
: After going 4-0-1 in their five previous home games, the Predators played their fourth in a five-game homestand Saturday night against Columbus, a team that hadn't won a road game all season. But despite the favorable matchup, Nashville needed Nick Spaling's third-period goal just to force overtime against the Blue Jackets. In the extra period, James Wisniewski notched his first goal of the season as Columbus improved its road record to 1-7-1.
The loss to Columbus highlighted a troubling trend for the Predators' notoriously stout defense. It marked the fourth time in the young season that the Predators had blown a third-period lead. Each of those games resulted in a loss for Nashville, a team whose strong defense and goaltending had made it a difficult team when playing with a late lead.
"They were checking well, and I give Columbus full credit," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Their record is not an indication of how good a team they are. They are very talented and they've been playing pretty well."
: For the Oilers, Nugent-Hopkins remained hot with 11 points in his last 10 games while Jordan Eberle
has seven points in his last four games. … Predators captain Shea Weber has six points in his current four-game point streak while his defensive partner Ryan Suter has five points in that span. Martin Erat has also been hot with four goals in his last five games and Mike Fisher has five points in his last three contests.
: Edmonton's defense is badly depleted, with Ryan Whitney
still day-to-day with a knee injury while Cam Barker
(ankle), Andy Sutton
(groin), and Corey Potter
(ankle) are all out.
: For the first time in years, the Predators are getting scoring from a variety of sources. At the moment, they have four players – David Legwand, Craig Smith, Weber, and Suter – who are on pace for 60 points this season. The Predators haven't had a 60-point scorer since J-P Dumont had 65 points in the 2008-09 season. The last time Nashville had multiple players with 60-plus points was 2007-08, when Dumont and Jason Arnott both collected 72 points.
: Nugent-Hopkins' effort against Chicago on Saturday was impressive in all areas. Not only did he become the first 18-year-old in NHL history to collect five assists in a game, but he also boasted a 78-percent success rate in the faceoff circle, winning seven out of nine draws. He now leads all rookies with 20 points, five more than the Predators' Smith, who is second among rookies in points but first in power-play points and points on the road.