Hornqvist leads Predators past Oilers

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) With Nashville down 2-0 early in the first period, Predators coach coach Barry Trotz knew the next goal was going to be big.

“If the Oilers had gotten a third goal I think we would have been talking about something else tonight,” Trotz after the Predators overcame the early deficit to win their third straight game, 6-3 over Edmonton on Thursday night.

“But we scored and started believing a little bit.”

Patric Hornqvist scored twice and added an assist, and Ryan Jones, Joel Ward, Marcel Goc and Jerred Smithson also scored for Nashville, 5-0-1 in its last six games and tied with Chicago for the Central Division lead.

“We were sleeping at the start,” Trotz said. “We played back-to-back games and then had a big travel day and we just didn’t have any legs. But I felt the next goal would mean everything at that point and that we needed to wake up and go after it.”

Robert Nilsson had two power-play goals for Edmonton, and Lubomir Visnovsky also scored. The Oilers have lost two in a row after winning five straight on the road.

“Losing gracefully has been the standard here for a while,” Oilers assistant captain Sheldon Souray said. “When we go on the road and put hard work and have a team first attitude, it raises our standards. Good teams have that level consistently.

“We’re a team that takes two steps forward and two steps back, and that gets you nothing. We don’t want that to be acceptable.”

Edmonton started strong, striking first on the power play 3 minutes when Nilsson chipped a shot off of the goalie Pekka Rinne’s arm.

The Flames scored again 2 minutes later when Gilbert Brule’s shot was accidentally kicked by Nashville’s Kevin Klein right to the pinching Visnovsky for his eighth goal of the season. It was just the fourth Edmonton shot on net and enough to chase Rinne just 5:01 into the game, with Dan Ellis replacing him in net.

The Predators got on the board with 8 minutes to play in the opening period when Jones whacked in rebound after the Oilers failed to clear the puck in front of goalie Jeff Deslauriers. Nashville tied it 4 minute later when Ward pulled down a puck in traffic in front of the net, put it to his backhand and beat Deslauriers.

The Predators quieted the building just 50 seconds later when J.P. Dumont sent a pass through the crease to Goc, who tipped home his fifth goal.

Nashville went up 4-2 midway through the second period when Hornqvist finished off a nice three-way passing play from Jason Arnott and Dumont.

“We played well for 50 minutes, but the first 10 was brutal,” Hornqvist said. “Jonesy’s goal was a big goal and after that we were all over them I think.”

Edmonton pulled within one with 5 minutes remaining in the second when Nilsson scored his second power-play goal, stealing the puck from Dan Hamhuis at the blue line and then making a diving deke to beat Ellis.

The Predators, however, got a power-play goal of their own with 3 seconds left in the period when Hornqvist tipped in Ryan Suter’s shot for a 5-3 lead.

Smithson completed the scoring with just 43 seconds left.

“We had a nice start and then a couple weak goals went in and we didn’t bounce back and fight back hard enough,” Oilers coach Pat Quinn said.

NOTES: Edmonton won the only previous meeting between the two teams, 6-1 in Nashville. … Deslauriers started his 13th consecutive game with Nikolai Khabibulin sidelined indefinitely by a back injury. Khabibulin had a cortisone shot this week hoping to speed up his recovery.

Updated December 18, 2009