NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Edmonton coach Tom Renney hears the word consistency associated with his team, all he can do is laugh.
His team is fast and explosive, but consistency has been elusive so far this season.
“I don’t want anyone to lose sight that we are young team and we are still trying to figure this out,” Renney said. “These guys are trying hard.”
On Tuesday night the Oilers scored three unanswered first period goals and cruised to a 6-2 win over the Nashville Predators.
The Oilers have won both games against the Predators this season, enjoying a 9-3 scoring advantage.
Saturday night the Oilers beat Chicago 9-2 on the road. Monday night they lost 4-1 at Dallas.
“Consistency is a problem for the coach,” Renney said. “We have to identify with a standard of play and a commitment to do the little things every night.
“When we do that we are fine. But we have a tendency to give the puck up. We turn it over and we try to get fancy,” he said. “There are no style points on the NHL. We have to play a simple game, especially on the road.”
Jordan Eberle scored a pair of goals and added an assist for the Oilers. He thought the Oilers took a page or two out of the Predators’ playbook and performed at a higher level.
“They’re experienced,” Eberle said. “They play a game where they try to frustrate you as far as turning pucks over. I thought we did that to them. We got the puck behind them and forced the forecheck and made them turn the puck over.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz was frustrated that his team never was able to properly execute.
“We had a game plan and we just didn’t do it,” Trotz said. “We went in with what we wanted to do and in the first period we did zero of that. We did absolutely none of what we set out to do.”
Shawn Horcoff also had two goals for the Oilers. He scored the first goal of the game at 9:31 on the power play. Ales Hemsky, who also had an assist, needed only 2:08 after Horcoff’s goal to score.
Eberle added a goal at 15:51 of the first period.
The Oilers outshot the Predators 13-3 in the first 20 minutes, prompting Trotz to remove starting goaltender Pekka Rinne from the game. Anders Lindback played the second and third periods.
“I didn’t want to continue to subject Pekka to the way we were playing,” Trotz said.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Ryan Smyth each had a pair of assists for Edmonton.
With 11:59 left in the second, Edmonton’s penalty kill held off a 5-on-3 advantage by the Predators for 51 seconds.
“According to us, we had 12 chances in the second period and didn’t come up with anything,” Trotz said. “With a goal on the 5-on-3 we could have gotten back into it.”
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk stopped 30 shots in the win.
“Devan was real good,” Renny said. “He played real big… strong … square. He looked really dialed in to the puck.”
The Oilers added three more goals in the third with a tally by Eberle, a power play goal by Jeff Petry and a goal by Horcoff.
The Predators scored a pair of third period goals. Jordin Tootoo tipped in a slap shot by Shea Weber on the power play. Jonathon Blum added a goal with 20 seconds remaining. Tootoo was credited with an assist on Blum’s goal.
“Any time you can contribute offensively it is always a bonus,” Tootoo said. “But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. We’re here to get two points and we didn’t do that.”
NOTES: Hemsky played in his 500th NHL game. … Eberle leads the Oilers in assists with 14. … This was the first regulation loss for the Predators in their last seven games on home ice. … This was only the third game of the season for Lindback. … The goals by Tootoo and Petry were their firsts of the season.