EDMONTON – The Edmonton Oilers may want to give minor league call-up Martin Gerber a few more starts this season.
Gerber, the 36-year-old NHL veteran who has been playing for the Oilers American Hockey League affiliate in Oklahoma City, made 34 saves in regulation and overtime, then three more in a shootout as Edmonton defeated the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Tuesday.
Gerber improved his record to 3-0 with the big club.
Linus Omark scored the shootout winner and Jim Vandermeer scored in regulation for the last-place Oilers (21-35-8) who have won five of their last eight games.
Oilers head coach Tom Renney credited Gerber, up from the minors while Nikolai Khabibulin battles an eye injury, for keeping the team in the contest through another tough start.
“He was outstanding. He is the only reason we are talking about a win,”Renney said, adding that some goalies thrive on seeing a lot of shots.
“I think they love that. I think they would rather have 40 shots than 14. Although 30 of those coming before the third period isn’t great.”
Gerber, 19-12-3 in Oklahoma City this season, said it was nice to get another victory in the big leagues.
“It always feels good when you win. It always gives you confidence and it’s a lot of fun,”he said.“I just want to get the best out of this season and see how things go. That’s all I’m really focused on right now.”
Blake Geoffrion replied for the Predators (32-23-9), who have not been doing themselves any favours in the tight Western Conference playoff picture with losses in six of their last eight.
“We wanted the two points,”said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz.“We need two points every night right now. We are still trailing the pack by a little bit here. Getting one is disappointing. But at the same time, one is better than nothing.”
Edmonton had the best early chance as Ales Hemsky had a partial breakaway but rang the puck off the post behind Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne.
Nashville took a 1-0 lead 13 minutes into the second as Ryan Suter sent a backhand pass from behind the net to Geoffrion on the doorstep. Geoffrion blasted his first career NHL goal past Gerber.
Geoffrion, who played his third career game with Nashville, is the first ever fourth-generation player in the league. His great-grandfather Howie Morenz, grandfather Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion and his father, Dan Geoffrion all preceded him on his path to the NHL.
“It feels unbelievable to get that first goal,”Geoffrion said.“I was so happy. Hopefully there is a lot more to come. It was a great pass from Suter. It’s just to bad it didn’t come in a win.”
The Predators’ lead lasted just 41 seconds as Oilers defenceman Vandermeer stepped into a blast from the top of the faceoff circle to make it 1-1.
Edmonton was again badly outshot in the first, trailing Nashville 18-7.
There was no scoring in the largely uneventful second period, the most interesting thing being that 1:11 of it was tacked on before the start of the third due to a broken pane of glass.
Once the period was officially completed following the intermission, the Predators had upped their shot lead to 30-13.
Both teams had good chances with around six minutes to go in the third as a Gilbert Brule shot bounced high in the air and landed on top of the Nashville net before being swept to safety,
Brule later coughed up the puck deep in the Edmonton zone to Sergei Kostitsyn, forcing a clutch save from Gerber, eventually sending the game to extra time.
Edmonton outshot Nashville 11-4 in the third.
Both teams play next on Thursday as the Oilers host Columbus and the Predators play the second leg of a four-game Western trip in Vancouver.
Notes: It was the third of four meetings between the teams this season. The teams split their two prior games…The Predators came into the game having won 15 of the last 18 meetings with Edmonton…Following Monday’s trade deadline deal of forward Dustin Penner to Los Angeles, Swedish rookie Magnus Paajarvi took his spot on Edmonton’s first line with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff…Hemsky left the game late in the third with an injured shoulder but the team had no update on the severity…With Theo Peckham still seeing stars after a fight in Sunday’s game, defenceman Richard Petiot was called up from the Oklahoma City Barons to take his place on the Oilers’blue-line. It was his first NHL contest since suiting up for Tampa Bay in 2008-09…The Predators’big pre-deadline day deal, Mike Fisher, has one goal and three assists in nine games since joining Nashville.