Predators turn on offense, beat Oilers
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
For one night, the Nashville Predators fixed their scoring woes by matching their best output of the season. Now their challenge is proving they can do it again.
''We won a game, you know,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ''That's great. That's what we need. Can we follow it up? That's what's going to be the test. We're playing a very good Minnesota team that's got their game in order. We're going to be tested.''
Patric Hornqvist, David Legwand, Rich Clune and Zach Boychuk also had a goal apiece as the well-rested Predators won for the first time since Feb. 25, when they beat Dallas in overtime. Shea Weber had three assists in the first game against Edmonton this year.
Pekka Rinne made 24 saves for his fourth shutout this season. But it was the offense that had been lacking for the NHL's lowest-scoring team, which came in averaging a measly 1.96 goals per game, that finally came through for Nashville. The Predators had managed only one goal in losing three straight in California.
''It's a good feeling,'' Wilson said of the goals. ''But we realize we have to build on it. Maybe if we put together a string of games, 10 games, we'll start feeling pretty good about ourselves. But right now it's just one game.''
The Oilers are 0-4-1 in their last five, the last two their first shutout losses this season. They were playing their second game in as many nights, and a roster with five players already missing was without forward Ales Hemsky. He had a puck go off his foot in Thursday night's 3-0 loss at Detroit.
Oilers coach Ralph Krueger called the loss a ''disaster'' with no excuses.
''We can only dig deep to see why we have gone two games without drawing a power play and why the result happened,'' Krueger said. ''The way this league is set up right now with the way (games) are coming at you and with the speed they come at you, there is no time to regroup. There is no time to feel sorry for yourself.''
Edmonton won the series last season 3-1, but Nashville now is 18-6-1 against the Oilers since 2006-07.
The Predators took advantage of three days of rest since a 5-1 loss to Anaheim and used three new players: waiver wire pickups Bobby Butler and Boychuk, along with defenseman Victor Bartley, called up from Milwaukee in the AHL on Wednesday. Butler drew three penalties to go along with Boychuk's goal to lift their new teammates.
The new players apparently sent a nice reminder to the Predators that few jobs are safe.
''You bring in two extra forwards, it makes everybody a little bit more competitive,'' Wilson said. ''Everybody wants to keep their job and help the team win.''
Nashville jumped on the Oilers from the start and wound up outshooting them 34-24.
The Predators took nine of the first 10 shots and went up 1-0 after Oilers defenseman Nick Schultz went to the penalty box for slashing. Trotz had been reminding his Predators to shoot more at the net, trying to give themselves more rebounds. Mike Fisher did just that, though his shot went just wide.
The puck bounced back toward Wilson near the post, and he knocked it toward Hornqvist whose wrister went in for Nashville's first power-play goal in four games. The Predators came in 1-of-14 with the man advantage over the previous six games.
Nashville padded that lead with a lucky bounce late in the period. Legwand flipped the puck toward the goal from the other side of the red line. Goalie Devan Dubnyk tried to glove the puck only to have it slip underneath his arm. It was Legwand's first goal since Feb. 16.
''We've had a couple strange things happen to us, and it's tore at our confidence a little bit,'' Trotz said. ''You get one like that, it sort of gives you back a piece of yourself a little bit.''
The Oilers yanked Dubnyk after the first period, and Yann Danis gave up a goal 51 seconds into the second. Clune scored the second goal of his career from in front. Boychuck, claimed Tuesday off waivers from Pittsburgh, deflected a shot by Weber past Danis for a 4-0 lead.
Nashville lost Hornqvist to an upper body injury in the second period. Oilers defenseman Theo Peckman boarded Hornqvist, who slumped over and skated to the bench before heading straight to the locker room.
Wilson scored his sixth goal by driving to the net and beating Danis with a backhander at the post early in the third period. He added his second of the night on a power play, a wrister from the left circle. That gave Nashville its first game with two power-play goals since the second game of the season back on Jan. 21.
Edmonton had its best scoring chances short-handed when Ryan Jones, a former Predator, had a breakaway in each of the first two periods only to be stopped by Rinne.
''It's obviously unacceptable,'' Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. ''We just went two whole games without a goal, and you can't win like that.''
Notes: Nashville beat St. Louis 6-1 on Feb. 5. ... The Predators improved to 9-1-4 when scoring more than one goal. Nashville also is 9-0-5 when scoring first. ... Wilson now has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in his last 17 games. He also became the 24th player in Nashville history and the team's 11th draft pick to score 100 points and has 103 in his career. He has had three two-goal games in his career, two this season. ... Nashville had its 24th straight sellout dating back to last season. ... The Oilers have been outshot in 16 of 24 games.