J.P. Dumont scored a goal and had two assists as the Predators beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Tuesday night to move atop the NHL standings. The Predators matched a franchise record with their 49th win for 105 points and went ahead of idle Buffalo and Detroit (103 points each) in the overall standings. The Predators host Detroit on Thursday night as they attempt to stay ahead of the Red Wings in the Central Division.
Jason Arnott, Shea Weber, Alexander Radulov had the goals for Nashville, which started a five-game homestand.
“This last month has had its toll on us,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “It hasn’t been easy.
“We’ve been really short-handed. A lot of guys have gone through the flu bug. We’ve played a lot of tough opponents. We have home cooking here for a while. It’ll be nice to be home for a bit.”
Nashville still is without forwards Steve Sullivan, Martin Erat, Scott Hartnell and Scott Nichol because of injuries, and Jordin Tootoo is sitting out a five-game suspension. Then captain Kimmo Timonen suffered what the Predators called an “upper-body injury.”
With the Red Wings next, Trotz took no chances and pulled Timonen in the first period. When defenceman Darcy Hordichuk took a game misconduct in the second, the Nashville bench couldn’t have been much shorter.
“We’re still feeling the effects a little bit of the road trip,” Trotz said of a three-game swing into Canada last week. “We responded pretty well.”
Outside temperatures that reached about 27 C and a crowd of 16,382 left the ice sloppy, especially late in periods.
Ales Hemsky, Petr Sykora and Toby Petersen scored for Edmonton, which opened its six-game season-ending road trip. The team that played in the Stanley Cup final last summer lost for the 14th time in 15 games.
At least the Oilers showed spirit, outshooting Nashville 5-1 in the opening minutes. They led briefly twice but couldn’t hold on against a team looking for the season sweep after winning the first three games, including a 4-0 shutout Saturday in Edmonton.
“To put yourself in this position, we know how difficult the wins have been for us,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “To put yourself in this position and come away empty on a night when you get three goals is pretty disappointing.”
Nashville also had to kill two power plays in the final seven minutes, including the last 1:44. Dumont said it was really hot during the game, which caused the puck to jump erratically off passes.
“We kept our composure and got a big win for us,” he said.
Hemsky’s power-play goal at 1:57 of the second on a wrist shot from the right circle gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead. Nashville answered with two goals within the next three minutes.
Sykora tied the game at 2:30 of the third with a shot from just inside the blue-line that went through Tomas Vokoun’s legs. Petersen put Edmonton up 3-2 with a wrist shot from the edge of the left circle that again went through Vokoun’s legs at 5:57.
“We could have won the game,” Hemsky said.
But Arnott tied the game 24 seconds later with his 27th from in front of goalie Dwayne Roloson off a pass from Dumont at the end boards. Dumont put Nashville ahead to stay at 4-3 by tipping in a pass from Ramzi Abid at 8:40.
It shouldn’t have been as close. Nashville had repeated chances to put the game away and just missed converting.
Dumont set up Weber for his 17th at 3:37 of the second after Hemsky’s goal. Nashville went ahead 2-1 when Peter Forsberg flipped the puck from the left circle to Radulov on the right who beat Roloson with a wrist shot at 4:18.
It would have been much worse if not for the Oilers penalty killing. They are the league’s best on the road, and they killed off all three of Nashville’s power plays.
Notes: With his goal, Radulov tied the franchise’s single-season record for goals by a rookie. Adam Hall had 16 in 2002-03. Radulov has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past three games . . . Oilers defenceman Matt Greene skated in his 100th career NHL game . . . Roloson had his third assist of the season on Petersen’s goal.