Draisaitl’s 3-point game lifts Oilers past Predators 4-2
Draisaitl had two goals and an assist and the Oilers beat the Nashville Predators 4-2.
The Predators came into the game with a 14-1 record against Edmonton since Oct. 29, 2014. In that time, Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne had won 12 consecutive starts, but he was outplayed by Mike Smith in the Edmonton net on the night.
“The second half of the season, the points matter more,” said Smith, who made 30 saves for his fourth straight win. “Everything gets amplified, and as you creep towards playoffs you want to be playing your best hockey.
“I love the second part of the season, playing big games and helping the team get big wins.”
“We went with the mindset that we wanted to check for our success today,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said. “We wanted to check hard all the way through the ice.
“We wanted to stay on our toes and keep moving and we checked well and it ended up in the right spot for us.”
“It was a tough loss for sure,” Rinne said. “I thought it was a big game for both teams. I thought we gave it a good effort at the end and tried to get the game tied up, but it didn’t happen.”
Nugent-Hopkins opened scoring for Edmonton nine minutes into the first period when he sent a wrist shot up high past Rinne off a face-off win. It was Nugent-Hopkins’s 13th goal of the season and his sixth in seven games.
The Predators responded two minutes later on a beautiful goal by Forsberg, who came from behind the net and lifted the puck up, lacrosse style, and banked it in off Smith for his 16th of the season.
“It’s something that I’ve tried a couple of times,” Forsberg said. “It’s cool that it went in, but it would have been a lot better if we would have won.”
Nashville took the lead with four minutes left in the opening period when they caught the Oilers on a bad line change. That allowed Nick Bonino to make a nice feed to Blackwell, who notched his second career NHL goal.
Edmonton pulled even with 18 seconds left in the first on the power play, as Draisaitl chipped in a rebound.
The Oilers surged back midway through the second period as McDavid fed it across to Archibald, who lifted it over a sprawling Rinne.
Draisaitl’s goal into an empty net put the game away in the final minute. The backhander was his 27th goal of the season.
NOTES: It was the first of three meetings between the teams, who will play again on Feb. 8 at Rogers Place in Edmonton before the season series concludes in Nashville on March 2. … The Predators have had nothing but success against the Oilers in recent years, coming into the game with a 14-1 record against Edmonton since Oct. 29, 2014. In that time, Rinne had won 12 consecutive starts. … With Zack Kassian serving the first of a two-game suspension for an altercation with Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, Archibald moved up to Edmonton’s top line with McDavid.
Predators: Host Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.
Oilers: Host Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.