Paul Kariya made it a cozy homecoming. He kept the puck alive behind the net before kicking it out to himself, and he found David Legwand in front of the net. Legwand scored with 2:45 left, and the Predators pulled out a 3-2 victory Tuesday night over the Edmonton Oilers.
“Just keeping that thing alive, he got it to Leggy, and he buried it,” Trotz said.
The Predators came into the game having lost three of four on the road where they played 19 of their first 29. It looked as though they might have to go to overtime to have a chance to celebrate their return home with a victory until Kariya set up Legwand for his 21st assist this season.
“He’s the kind of guy you have to have on the right side,” Oilers defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist said. “Otherwise, it ends up in the net.”
That gave Nashville points in a 10th straight home game. The Predators are the only NHL team with only one regulation loss at home.
“It was a good win for us,” Trotz said. “I was concerned about the first game back from a road trip. Sometimes emotionally you can be flat. I thought our guys showed some real good maturity as a group and responded really well.”
Vern Fiddler and rookie Alexander Radulov each had a goal for Nashville, and J.P. Dumont had two assists. The Predators, who had been outscored (38-19) and outshot (336-228) in the third period this season, managed the only goal in the third this time.
“We buckled down,” Nashville forward Scott Hartnell said. “We knew it was our weakness through the whole season. It gives us a little more confidence.”
Fernando Pisani had a goal and an assist, Marc-Andre Bergeron had a goal, and Raffi Torres had two assists for Edmonton, which lost its second straight in wrapping up a three-game road trip.
“It was frustrating,” Oilers centre Shawn Horcoff said. “Especially in the third where we were just about to get that goal. But that’s hockey. If you don’t capitalize, it just works like that.”
The Oilers tried to pressure goalie Chris Mason, making his 10th straight start with Tomas Vokoun out with torn ligaments in his right thumb. But he stopped Torres from the edge of the left circle with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Mason stopped 38 shots to improve to 5-3-1 since taking over for Vokoun.
The Predators may have relaxed too much in returning to Nashville. Edmonton outshot them 14-8 in the first period and 40-30 overall.
But they came out and scored twice on their first three shots of the second period.
Fiddler put Nashville up 1-0 only 48 seconds into the frame, backhanding a shot from the right circle past sprawling goalie Dwayne Roloson.
The Predators led 2-0 at 2:29 of the period on a power-play goal by Radulov from in front. He poked in a bouncing puck off a shot by Shea Weber against the NHL’s stingiest team on the penalty kill.
But the Oilers, who lost 4-1 in Chicago on Sunday, rallied almost immediately with two goals within 28 seconds.
Pisani scored at 4:30 by pushing the puck over Mason’s left side, and he assisted seconds later on Bergeron’s fourth goal. Bergeron pushed in a rebound of a shot by Torres to tie it at 2.
Notes: Trotz tied former New York Rangers coach Lester Patrick for 19th on the career list by coaching his 604th game with the same team. … The Oilers had allowed 13 power-play goals on 140 chances coming into this game. … Nashville is 12-6-2 when outshot. … Oilers RW Ales Hemsky (shoulder) missed his seventh game. … Oilers forward Jarret Stoll extended his point streak to five games with an assist, giving him six points (one goal, five assists). … Nashville C Jason Arnott is expected back Thursday following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Fellow centre Steve Sullivan was scratched for a second straight game.