The Oilers couldn’t solve Tomas Vokoun, watching the Nashville netminder make 26 stops for his fifth shutout of the season as the Predators snapped a two game losing skid with a 4-0 victory over Edmonton on Saturday night.
The Oilers (31-38-7) have only one win in their last 14 games and spend the last six games of the regular season on the road.
“You hate going out like that,” said Oilers forward Fernando Pisani. “We just couldn’t get anything going tonight. The chances we had we couldn’t put in and they capitalized on theirs. It’s obviously a tough way to go out in front of our fans who have been through a lot in the last little while.”
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish believes things should be much different when they return to Edmonton next fall.
“What’s happened here is something that is going to be largely fixed with a couple months in the summer and getting healthy,” he said. “And we also have to go out and add some components so we can turn this around and make next year as enjoyable as two years ago. We feel it is very doable.”
For the Predators it is still very much about the here and now. With the win Nashville (48-21-7)moved two points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for top spot in the Western Conference and the Central Division after the Wings had moved into a temporary tie for first with a point from a shootout loss
earlier in the day.
“The standings are so close we didn’t want to fall back,” said Vokoun. “We’ve been on top of our division for the whole year and we want to get that home advantage in the playoffs so two points here is worth as much as two points anywhere else. You don’t want to get on a slide, especially right before the playoffs.”
Nashville had lost four of its last five before defeating Edmonton.
“We only grabbed one of the first four points (on the road trip) so I think it was great to for us to get the win tonight so we can stay among the top teams,”
said Predators forward Peter Forsberg. “We’ve played some tough teams in the last couple of games but it was great to finish off the trip with three points instead of one.”
Alexander Radulov, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Vernon Fiddler scored the Nashville goals.
Nashville got off to a 1-0 lead just 4:28 into the first period as Peter Forsberg picked up a rebound at the side of the net, and he found Radulov open in front for an easy tap in past Oilers starter Jussi Markkanen.
The Predators opened the game up six minutes into the second with two goals in just a 25 second span. Weber blasted a shot from the right point on the power play that beat Markkanen through his pads to put Nashville ahead by two.
Nashville made it 3-0 less than a minute later as Suter’s point shot took an odd bounce past Markkanen before defenceman Bryan Young could prevent the puck from crossing the line.
The Preds padded their lead with another early goal in the third as Marek Zidlicky sprung Edmonton native Fiddler and his slap-shot cleanly beat Markkanen to make it a four-goal game.
The two teams play a rematch in Nashville on Tuesday as the Predators start a five-game homestand.
NOTES: With another crowd of 16,839 the Oilers sold out all 41 of their games at Rexall Place in Edmonton this season. They have now filled the building for 73 consecutive games stretching back to Nov. 29, 2005… Oilers forward Ales Hemsky was forced to sit out the game, still suffering from a
shoulder injury. He dressed against the Avalanche on Friday and made an impact, scoring a goal to help Edmonton break their 12 game winless streak with a 4-3 shootout win. Also scoring for the Oilers in regulation were a couple of guys who hadn’t in a while. Petr Sykora broke a 15-game scoreless drought and Joffrey Lupul found the net for the first time in 18 outings… As well documented as the Oilers injury woes have been, currently with seven players out, the Preds are also feeling the pinch with four players (Scott Hartnell, Steve Sullivan, Martin Erat and Scott Nichol) injured and Jordin Tootoo serving a suspension… Nashville is now just four goals shy of matching the franchise record for goals
(259), set last season.