After a 5-1 loss to the 29th place Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday
that all but ended their season, the stunned Predators were
struggling for answers.
They could not come up with any. At least not any good ones.
"We had a lot of no-shows, guys who didn't play to their
capabilities and that's not good enough for us," said Nashville
coach Barry Trotz. "I just thought that we didn't have enough
urgency from enough guys and we need guys to step up."
The Predators, who began the day in 12th place, nine points out the
final playoff spot, desperately needed this win, but it was the
Oilers who played like they wanted it more. Despite the worst home
record in the NHL, Edmonton jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 40
minutes and then piled on in the third.
"We had some confidence," said Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
"We've been playing a lot better of late on the defensive side of
things, not giving teams too much. We knew these guys would be a
good test for us because they play a good defensive game. I thought
we did a good job of staying patient and working for our
The Oilers have been on a surge of late, going 10-4-3 in their last
17 games for one of the best records in the NHL over that stretch.
"I think it's pretty awesome to see this team fighting its way
through the games here, getting points," said goalie Viktor Fasth,
who made 28 saves in the win. "Guys have been playing really good.
Since I've been here I've seen nothing but good things."
Though they don't have much to play for themselves, it hasn't
stopped the Oilers from playing hard down the stretch.
"It's a lot of fun when you're out there winning games and you have
confidence in each other, that you're going to get the job done,"
said Nugent Hopkins. "We definitely have that in here right now."
The Predators don't, in falling to 29-30-10.
"It wasn't a good effort, we didn't do too many good things out
there, we turned the puck over," said Nashville center Mike Fisher.
"We didn't do too many good things defensively and they buried them
when they got chances. They played pretty well."
Nashville gave up two power-play goals and went 0-for-5 with the man
"Our power play wasn't good tonight, they
did some things on their PK and we didn't capitalize," said Fisher.
"We didn't do many good things out there at all. They fed off that
and capitalized on that for sure."
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The Oilers scored first for the second straight game, waiting until
the final minute of the first period when center Sam Gagner went to
the slot to collect defenseman Martin Marincin's rebound after some
nice work by winger Taylor Hall to set everything up in the zone.
Gagner's goal gives him eight points in eight games since March 1.
Edmonton blew it open in the second period, scoring twice more to
take a 3-0 lead.
Nugent-Hopkins, who had not scored in 15 games, finally connected,
on the slumping power play, no less, after a nice pass from winger
Jordan Eberle at 8:18.
Then Hall scored to give the Oilers the three-goal cushion,
eventually. The referees missed the goal, allowing play to continue
for nearly two minutes. When it did, they changed the clock from
16:05 back to 14:48 and made it 3-0 Oilers.
Nashville made it interesting late in the second period, when winger
Gabriel Bourque cut it to 3-1 at 18:49. Edmonton put out the fire in
the third period when Eberle scored on yet another power play to
make it 4-1 Oilers at 8:39, and then added another goal to make it
5-1 just 1:17 later.
"Tonight we started to bear down and find some ways to score,
especially on the power play," said Eberle. "It's nice to kind of
get out of the hole there. The biggest thing with our offence is we
haven't been contributing the way we want to, so to get a couple
tonight definitely helps."
NOTES: Oilers RW Nail Yakupov, who is mired in a
two-goals-in-20-games slump, sat out with an ankle injury. He took
the pregame skate and came up lame. ... LW Jesse Joensuu will be
lost to the Oilers for the rest of the season because of a high
ankle sprain. ... Predators D Ryan Ellis and Michael Del Zotto were
both minus-3. Ellis escaped an early shower when he hit Oilers RW
Jordan Eberle from behind, face-first into the boards 48 seconds
into the game. He escaped with a boarding minor. ... Nashville does
not have a player out of the lineup with an injury. ...Predators G
Pekka Rinne got the hook 10:01 into the third period after giving up
five goals on 26 shots.
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