|NSH||0||1||1||(0 - 0)||2|
|EDM||1||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
Jordan Eberle opened the scoring 7:07 in, but the Predators sank two unanswered, including the go-ahead goal with 7:39 to play, edging the Oilers 2-1 Monday night at Rexall Place.
Nikolai Khabibulin made his 16th start of the season, posting 29 saves on the Predators' 31 shots.
The Oilers pressed hard in the opening three minutes, testing the Predators with a hard-nosed cycle but were unable to generate a shot on goal. Nashville, meanwhile, turned the other way and clunked Nikolai Khabibulin's blocker-side goal-post, but the teams' pressure neglected to result in a goal.
It took 7:07 for the Oilers to register a shot, but Jordan Eberle made sure it was a memorable one. No. 14 curled from the corner and placed a shot on goal; while his initial attempt was blocked, the sophomore picked up his own rebound and snapped another on (and behind) Predators starter Anders Lindback to put the Oilers up 1-0.
With 11:11 on the clock, Nashville's Shea Weber was charged with roughing, putting the Oilers' 21.5-percent power-play to work. The team's fourth-ranked success rate took a hit, succombing to the Predators' kill.
As the period's 10-minute mark passed, the Oilers continued to lead 1-0 but were trailing 2-1 in shots.
With about seven minutes remaining, Ryan Whitney sprung Ryan Smyth with a 90-foot stretch-pass; Smyth chased it down and collected the puck inside the Nashville end, sending a well-placed cross-crease delivery to Eberle at the crease's lip. Lindback's sliding pad save preserved his club's 1-0 disadvantage, however.
With 20 minutes in the books, Nashville held a slim 6-4 lead on the shot clock but continued to trail where it mattered.
Following a slow start to the period in which the Predators extended to an 8-5 lead in shots, the pace began to open up with the teams trading end-to-end chances. Further attempts were scarce; and so, too, were goals as the period progressed.
So that's when things turned physical. At 6:35, Ryan Jones lined up and crushed Nashville's Blake Geoffrion with a strong shoulder-to-shoulder impact. No. 28 was erroneously assessed a major penalty on the play, however, sending the Predators to the power-play.
On the same sequence when the play came to an end, Theo Peckham tapped Jordin Tootoo in the chest, which provoked Nashville's No. 22 to dive backward, earning him a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct (Peckham was charged with cross-checking, too).
Penalties to Roman Josi and Sergei Kostitsyn canceled the Predators' PP less than two minutes in, putting the Oilers on another man-advantage chance as the period's midway point approached.
Neither team could cash on the ensuing sequences, although the Oilers did orchestrate the best chance when Anton Lander sent Lennart Petrell in alone on a breakway, but the rookie's all-alone attempt was thwarted by Lindback with an emphatic, snow-throwing save.
On the Predators' 17 shot at 11:34, Weber took a pass and broke up-ice on Khabibulin's glove-side. The veteran rearguard released a wrister, fanning partially as he beat the Oilers' 38-year-old saviour along the side on his opposite side, setting a 1-1 score with a mere second remaining in Jones' penalty.
Looking to cash the go-ahead goal following a strong, one-minute long sequence in the Nashville zone, the Oilers went back to the power-play at 18:51 when Tootoo was assessed a high-sticking minor.
Just as the 1-1 score and 22-11 Predators shot advantage carried into the third, so too did 51 seconds of the home side's third power-play opportunity.
Following an unsuccesful attempt to start the period on the man-advantage, the Oilers went to the PK at 2:25. Colten Teubert bumbled the puck at the Preds' line, causing the rookie to raise his stick and clip Tootoo with an errant blade.
On the ensuing power-play, the orange and blue gathered the opportunity's best chance when Smyth's one-handed pass through the neutral zone sprung the captain on a breakaway; No. 10 deked to his backhand, but his shot grazed blue paint and slid out the other side, out of harm's way.
With 13:07 to play, Eric Belanger burst down the wing and whipped a long-range slapper on goal. The shot caught an exposed portion of Lindback's knee, causing the play to be whistled down. Pekka Rinne came out to stretch during the TV timeout, but the starting netminder returned to his crease.
Just as the period's 10-minute mark passed, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Whitney and Magnus Paajarvi choreographed a one-touch three-way passing play that resulted in the puck clutching the goal line. As the crowd rose behind Lindback, the whistle blew to end the mad scramble sequence; a quick video review followed, but the puck did not conclusively cross the line.
Up 29-17 in shots, the Predators cashed the go-ahead goal at 12:21. The puck was dished to Nick Spaling in the slot, where a quick snapshot, bar-in soared past a deep-in-his-crease Khabibulin to make it a 2-1 game.
Looking to draw the equalizer, the Oilers pulled Khabibulin for an extra-attacker with 1:26 to play. The home side pressed hard, but were unable to convert, dropping a 2-1 loss to open a six-game homestand.
Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick
|Shea Weber Roughing against Ales Hemsky|
|Theo Peckham Cross checking against Jordin Tootoo|
|Ryan Jones Elbowing against Blake Geoffrion|
|Jordin Tootoo Diving against Theo Peckham|
|Sergei Kostitsyn Interference against Ryan Smyth|
|Roman Josi Tripping against Jordan Eberle|
|Jordin Tootoo Hi-sticking against Ryan Nugent-Hopkins|
|Colten Teubert Hi-sticking against Jordin Tootoo|
|SA: 18||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 17||EV: 15 - 16|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 2|
|SV%: .944||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 31||TOI: 58:34|
|Saves: 29||EV: 26 - 27|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 4|
|SV%: .935||SH: 0 - 0|