NASHVILLE, Tenn. – One-goal decisions are becoming all too common for the Nashville Predators.
The Predators needed a third-period comeback to beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 on Tuesday night. The close win follows a 2-1 overtime win over St. Louis on Saturday and a 5-4 overtime loss to Minnesota on Sunday. Still, the Predators have now won four of their last six overall.
“This game was similar to the Minnesota game,” said Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “Our team was up by two in both games and then we let the other team back in. At that point you don’t know which way it is going to go.”
J.P Dumont and Scott Nichol each scored a goal and added two assists to lead the Predators offensive attack.
Dumont scored the winner at 18:05 of the third period when he skated around the net and backhanded a shot past Mathieu Garon. But Dumont was more concerned with the Predators’ defence than he was with the offence.
“That’s not the kind of hockey we want to play,” said Dumont, who had missed the previous two games with the flu. “But we’ll take the two points.
“We have a lot of stuff to clean up, especially the way we played away from the puck. That’s usually the best part of the game for us playing good two-way hockey. We have to look forward and make sure we take care of that.”
The Predators led 3-1, but a flurry of goals by the Oilers in the second period shifted the momentum of the game for a brief time.
Denis Grebeshkov’s power-play goal started it off at 13:05. There was a scramble for the loose puck in front of the Predators’ goal and Fernando Pisani made a short pass to Grebeshkov, who beat Dan Ellis to his glove side from low inside the left circle.
The Oilers tied it less than two minutes later when Sam Gagner beat Ellis to his glove side to tie it at 3. Edmonton took a 4-3 lead 23 seconds later as Reasoner skated down the left side and put a shot high over the right shoulder of Ellis.
“I wasn’t happy in the second period,” Trotz said. “We didn’t defend very well. We were close to people, but we weren’t defending. We have played a lot of games and we haven’t practised a whole lot. I think that is starting to show a little bit in some of our defensive habits, if you will. We are going to try to correct that.”
Alexander Radulov, Jordin Tootoo and Jason Arnott also scored for the Predators.
“J.P. really bounced back with a very strong game,” Trotz said. “He felt that since he had missed the last two games that he had to make up for lost time and play well. We also got a great effort out of Scott Nichol.”
The Predators scored the first goal of the game when Dumont passed the puck to Nichol as he skated into the slot. Nichol’s one-timer beat Garon low to his stick side at 9:27 of the first period.
At 14:19 of the first period, Radulov skated low across the slot and fired a shot from a few feet out and the puck went under the raised glove of Garon.
Edmonton got on the scoreboard with 1:11 remaining in the first. Sam Gagner passed the puck to Pisani, who was low in the slot and shot the puck from the edge of the crease between the leg pads of Ellis.
Gagner and Marty Reasoner also scored for the Oilers, who have dropped three of five.
Tootoo, playing in only his second game after missing 19 with a groin injury, gave the Predators a two-goal lead again at 3-1 at 5:58 of the second period. Vernon Fiddler skated out from behind the goal and found Tootoo at the top of the right face-off circle. Tootoo blasted the one-timer to Garon’s glove side.
“It is great to contribute offensively,” Tootoo said. “The timing will come. We haven’t had a lot of practice. I’ve been working hard in pregame skates. I feel pretty good out there. I think with a couple of more practices working on my timing I will be right back up there.”
The Predators have been known for their resiliency this season and this game was no different. The Edmonton lead proved to be short-lived. Twenty-three seconds after Reasoner scored, Arnott tied it.
“Arnott tying the game so quickly was huge,” Ellis said. “Whenever you can respond right away to losing a lead just swings the momentum back in your favour. It lessens the blow of being down a goal.”
The Oilers outshot the Predators 36-28.
“I think the past couple of games, we have battled pretty hard,” Edmonton’s Robert Nilsson said. “We just need to find ways to win games. We scored four goals. And when we score four goals, we should win.”
Notes: Dumont was back on the ice after missing the last two games with the flu. … Neither Ellis nor Chris Mason has lost to Edmonton. …. Gagner has a seven-game points streak. … Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky leads the team in assists with 35 after adding one against Nashville.