Predators aim to continue winning streak at Edmonton (Feb 28, 2018)

February 28, 2018

The Nashville Predators have had little trouble putting the puck in the net lately, and their newest acquisition looks like he's going to fit in just fine.

Looking for their sixth straight victory, the high-scoring Predators meet the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night at Rogers Place.

Nashville (39-14-9) rallied with three third-period goals to top the Winnipeg Jets, 6-5, on Tuesday in the opener of a four-game trip. Ryan Hartman, making his Predators debut one night after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks, scored the game-winner with one minute to play.

"Coming here to Nashville, down a couple goals in a playoff-type game and two (standings) points up on the team we're playing and being able to battle back, it's a good feeling. It shows a lot of character in this room," Hartman told the Tennessean.

Nashville's captain came away impressed.

"He was great. I thought even before he scored that goal, he was really good. He was hard on the forecheck. He made a lot of good plays, had a lot of shots," said defenseman Roman Josi, who became the fourth player in franchise history with five points in a game.

Nashville has outscored its opposition, 25-10, during a streak that's pushed the club atop the Western Conference. The Predators and Vegas Golden Knights each have 87 points, but Nashville has a game in hand.

Josi has a goal and 11 assists, including four multipoint contests, during the Preds' streak. Seven players have registered at least four points during the run.

Balance is the key to the Nashville's success this season. Six players have at least 40 points with winger Craig Smith needing one more to join them. Smith is already one of the Nashville players with a minimum of 20 goals, joining Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson.

Nashville took both matchups with the Oilers with six players each notching two points, but it's been the defense that shined. Pekka Rinne stopped 25 shots in a 2-1 win at home on Jan. 9 after Juuse Saros made a career-high 46 saves in a 4-0 win on Dec. 14 in Edmonton.

Rinne is 33-9-4 with a 2.33 GAA and six shutouts. He's 4-0-0 with 1.47 GAA in his last four games in the Oilers' home ice.

Edmonton (27-32-4), which is opening a five-game homestand, had won three in a row before falling 5-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi scored, but Cam Talbot surrendered four second-period markers.

"The four goals that they did score were them creating turnovers in the (offensive) zone and pouncing on it," Oilers forward Milan Lucic told the league's official website. "Twenty minutes lost us the game."

While February was fantastic for McDavid (13 goals, eight assists), Leon Draisaitl (eight goals, nine assists), Mike Cammalleri (12 assists) and Ryan Strome (five goals, five assists), Lucic's struggles dragged on. He is tied for third on the team with 31 points, but has just five assists in his last 27 games dating back to Dec. 23 and is stuck on nine goals.

"It's been a rough two months. Sometimes you just have to start fresh," Lucic told the Edmonton Journal on Wednesday. "The thing is it's March 1 starting on Thursday. I have to start fresh with a new month."

He has one goal in two home games versus Nashville while with Edmonton.

McDavid, who's scored the Oilers' only goal versus the Preds this season, has two goals and three assists in seven career games against Nashville. Edmonton hasn't won any of them (0-6-1).

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