EDMONTON – In the midst of a five-game trip, the Nashville Predators needed to get back on track and fast.
They did so Monday when Nick Spaling scored the game winner in the third period to help his team snap a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Nashville broke the 1-1 deadlock with just under eight minutes to play when Jordin Tootoo sent a backhand pass in front to Spaling, who buried his third of the season.
“It was a great play by him,” Spaling said. “It was also a great play by Craig Smith to keep it in. We had the forecheck going and he was in the middle to create the turnover. I was just trying to find and open spot and Toots did a good job winning the puck battle behind the net.”
Shea Weber also scored for the Predators (11-8-4), who needed some good news playing the third game of a tough five-game road trip.
“We played with a lot more of the things that you need to have to win,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. “We played with a lot more intensity and structure. It was getting a little nerve-wracking because we had numerous chances, 14 or 15 in the second period, and were tied 1-1. That was a big goal by the Smith line with Spaling and Tootoo.”
Anders Lindback captured his first win of the season in the Nashville net.
“I’ve just been working hard, waiting for a chance to get in for a start,” he said. “I got great help from the whole team. We played a great game over the whole ice, which made it easier for me.”
Jordan Eberle replied for the Oilers (12-10-2), who have lost two in a row and seven of their last 10 games.
“We were being a little too pretty,” he said of the Oilers’ performance on the night.
Edmonton head coach Tom Renney agreed that his team didn’t do enough to grit out the win.
“I thought our compete level had to improve,” he said. “As a team, we passed up opportunities to put pucks on net and create havoc on rebounds. It was way too easy for Nashville tonight.
“It’s the NHL, shoot the puck.”
Edmonton started the scoring seven minutes into the contest. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made a nice move to spin around a defender and got it to Eberle, who lifted his own rebound off of a defender over the glove of Lindback for his eighth of the season. It was Edmonton’s first shot of the game.
Neither goalie saw much action in the opening period. Edmonton had only four shots to Nashville’s six on Oilers netminder Nikolai Khabibulin.
Nashville was given a big break six minutes into the second period when Ryan Jones was called for a suspect major penalty after a big hit on Blake Geoffrion that was deemed an elbow. Geoffrion left the game and is not expected to play for the remainder of Nashville’s road trip.
The Predators tied the game up just before time expired on the power play when Weber’s shot from the right circle snuck past Khabibulin.
Nashville controlled the play in the second period, taking a 22-11 lead in shots into the third.
Edmonton had a good chance to gain back their lead early in the third when captain Shawn Horcoff had a short-handed partial breakaway but shot the puck wide of the Nashville net.
Seven minutes into the third Lindback needed assistance from the trainer after taking a hard slapshot from Eric Belanger but was able to stay in goal.
A minute later Nashville had a quality chance but Khabibulin was there again to make a point-blank stop on Colin Wilson.
The Oilers came close yet again when a Horcoff shot caromed off of Predator Kevin Klein and hit the post before being smothered by Lindmark. The play stood up to a video review.
After Spaling’s goal, Edmonton had a few chances with the goalie pulled but could not get the equalizer.
The Predators are in Calgary on Tuesday. The Oilers next suit up on Wednesday at home to the Minnesota Wild.
Notes: It was the third meeting of the season between the two teams, with Edmonton winning the previous two. Their last meeting was last Tuesday in Nashville when the Oilers chased Pekka Rinne on their way to a 6-2 victory. … Edmonton forward Taylor Hall underwent an MRI on Monday a shoulder injured on a hit on Saturday in Colorado. He is expected to miss two-to-four weeks. Magnus Paajarvi took his place on a line with Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. … Paajarvi was playing in his 100th career NHL game. Teammate Ryan Jones was playing his 200th. … Oilers defenceman Andy Sutton has begun skating with the team in the wake of a groin injury. Nashville was without defenceman Francis Bouillon, also sidelined with a groin injury. … Coming into the game, Martin Erat had posted 11 points in 13 games since returning from injury on Oct. 29. Weber and Ryan Suter had each posted 12 points in Nashville’s last 13 games. … The Predators are 9-0-2 when holding their opponent to two goals or less.