The line of Alexander Radulov, Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont accounted for four goals and six points to lead the Nashville Predators to a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night at the Sommet Center. The win gave Nashville back-to-back victories and improved it to 5-2-0 in the last seven games dating back to Dec. 22.
The Predators were an efficient 2-for-3 on the power play, and Dan Ellis was outstanding in his second consecutive start, turning aside 26 shots.
Teams traded chances early, but created them in two entirely different fashions. Edmonton generated offense with speed around the perimeter, while Nashville paid the price and attempted to pound pucks in from the edge of the crease.
A Predators power play produced the game’s first goal, sticking with the theme of pressure down low. Oiler goalie Mathieu Garon made a couple of circus saves down low to keep it 0-0 early in the five-on-four advantage, but they left him scrambling, and Dumont ultimately used quick hands to flip a rebound into the goal’s roof at 9:31. Ville Koistinen had the initial shot and picked up the primary assist, while David Legwand – who returned to the lineup after missing Monday night’s game – notched a helper as well, his sixth point (1g-5a) in his last six games.
Nashville extended its lead to 2-0 just 1:24 later when Jerred Smithson caught the Oilers in the midst of a line change. Edmonton was changing personnel as the puck sat free in front of its bench, and Smithson took advantage, putting a backhander past Garon while in all alone. The tally was his first since Dec. 8 against Anaheim.
Edmonton continued the flurry of first-period goals at 14:19. Zach Stortini got the marker, his first of the season, by fending off a pair of Nashville defensemen to pound home a rebound.
Nashville would respond though, taking the momentum into the dressing room for the first intermission. At 17:23, Radulov put on an impressive display of speed and skill. Upon taking a pass from Dumont, he raced across center ice into the Edmonton zone, cut through the slot, and snapped a wrist shot by Garon’s outstretched glove.
Paired with his goal earlier in the period, Dumont now has goals in three straight contests and nine points (6g-3a) in his past nine games.
The Predators’ dominance of the opening 20 minutes showed up on the shot clock as well –they outshot the Oil 20-9. The 20 shots tied a season high also reached in the third period of a 5-4 win at Montreal on Dec. 1.
Dan Ellis stones Kyle Brodziak on a penalty shot in the second period.
Pace quickened in the second frame, and the end-to-end action closely resembled the other game the two squads played on Nov. 2 in Edmonton – a 3-1 win for Nashville.
The boost in tempo paid off for the Preds, as they drew a penalty at the 6:40 mark and scored on the ensuing man-advantage opportunity 41 ticks later. Everyone on the ice got involved in the Predators’ fourth goal, with Martin Erat making a pretty cross-ice feed to Marek Zidlicky to start the play. Zidlicky then undressed Garon with some slick stick-handling moves, and pushed the puck over to Arnott, who buried it from the top of the crease while being checked to the ice.
Zidlicky added to his defensive-corps leading points total (2g-20a) with the helper.
Edmonton got its best chance of the period at the 9:41 of the frame when Kyle Brodziak was drug down while on in on a shorthanded breakaway. He was awarded a penalty shot – the third against both the Predators and Ellis this season – but the Preds netminder used an effective poke check to prevent Brodziak from getting a solid shot off on the most exciting play in hockey.
Nashville faced a bit of pressure late in the second when it was forced to kill two penalties in a 4:30 span, but the Predators seventh-ranked penalty kill stood strong, and Ellis looked confident, stopping all four shots he faced while down a man.
Edmonton finally cashed in on its fourth power play of the night just 3:55 into the third period. With Zidlicky in the box for a trip, Marty Reasoner threw a cross-the-crease pass to a wide open Ethan Moreau, and the Oiler captain one timed a shot past Ellis’ right leg pad from the left face-off dot.
The Radulov-Arnott-Dumont line continued to click in the third, as Arnott fed Radulov for the Predators’ fifth goal. After winning a battle along the half boards, Arnott threw a tape-to-tape pass to Radulov, who sniped the far upper corner of the net for his second tally of the contest.
Jerred Smithson celebrates his first goal since Dec. 8 with teammate Scott Nichol in the first period on Thursday.
The two-goal night for the sophomore Russian gives him five lamp-lighters and seven points in the last five games. Arnott’s multiple-point game (1g-1a) means he has 12 points (6g-6a) in the last nine contests.
Nashville outshot Edmonton 30-28 for the game and held the Oilers to one power-play goal on seven tries.
The Predators hit the ice again at the Sommet Center on Saturday night when they take on the Minnesota Wild. Tickets to the Wild’s second trip to Nashville this season are still available by calling (615) 770-PUCK, visiting nashvillepredators.com or ticketmaster.com and by visiting the Sommet Center Box Office located in the arena tower.
Game Notes: Nashville scratched Kevin Klein and Jed Ortmeyer, while Edmonton sat Sheldon Souray, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner… The Predators scored three goals in the first period on Thursday for the second time all season (the other was Nov. 4 in Chicago). In all, Nashville has seven three-goal periods this season… Nashville has won six straight games against Edmonton and haven’t lost to the Oilers at home since Oct. 29, 2005… Nashville is now 1-0-0 in the month of January. It went10-3-0 in the month last year, and have a winning record in the year’s first month six times in the franchise’s eight seasons… Alexander Radulov tied a career-best five-game point-scoring streak tonight (5g-2a)… With an assist tonight, Legwand has seven points (3g-4a) in the last six games against Edmonton… The Predators netminding duo of Dan Ellis and Chris Mason are a combined 4-0-0 all-time against Edmonton with a 2.00 goals-against average… Darcy Hordichuk fought Zach Stortini at the 7:24 mark of the season period, just three seconds after Nashville’s fourth goal… Greg Zanon led the team in ice time with 23:53 played. A game-high 8:46 of that came while killing Oiler penalties… Zanon also had a team-high three hits (tied with Scott Nichol) and a game-high five blocked shots… Nichol was the top Pred in the face-off circle, winning 12-of-20 draws (60%)… These teams meet for the next time on Feb. 19 in Nashville.
Predators Goaltender Dan Ellis On his first penalty shot stop...
Yes, I think so. I’ve been terrible on them so far, I finally mixed in a save. I had played with Kyle (Brodziak) in Iowa, which is kind of funny. We always used to do breakaways and stuff, and kind of forgot what his moves were. I had a couple of problems handling his shots early in the game, but he made the same move on the first breakaway he was taken down on. I just followed him across.
On playing with the lead...
It’s always easier. Whenever you can play with a lead, especially a three goal lead, it takes a lot of pressure of your back, it takes a lot of pressure off your teams back. We can loosen the grip on our sticks, we can play hard, we can focus on the things that lead to victories, and it makes it a lot easier.
On how the team has changed recently...
We are improving. We lost a couple guys out of our lineup, (Weber), (Suter) and (Legwand) for a game, and we were just able to draw into our depth for the Dallas game. The guys really stepped their game up tonight, we added Suter and (Legwand), which helped. I think definitely offensively with two guys like that, it will always improve. We are gaining little bits of momentum. You go through your ups and downs throughout the course of a season and you try and find yourself. I think we are starting to find out game.
Predators Center Jason Arnott On playing better as a team...
If you look at the standings, you can’t lose too many games or you’re going to fall out of the race. So it’s crucial for us to come to the rink every night, knowing we have to get two points or we’re going to be that much further away.
On Radulov’s two goals...
It’s been great for him, just confidence reasons. He still needs to work a lot on defensive zone and little things like that. We’ll take the goals from him, as long as his confidence is high, goals are always good.
On the quick start to the game...
We got on a few (power-plays) early and capitalized on it, which gave us the lead. Knowing that they played last night, they’d be a little tired and it was nice to get a few on the power-play to get the lead in the first. It was a big boost for us and we just kind of rolled with it.
Predators Right Wing J.P. Dumont On the Predators quick start to the game...
We needed a quick start and that’s exactly what we did. It was a big first period we had. The second period we played really good and the third period we tried to sit back a little bit, but we got lucky there. We had a good lead, but that’s not the kind of period we want to play in the third. It’s a big two points. Right now we are getting back and we to get a winning streak going and it’s a good start.
On getting the early lead...
We are a different team when we play with a lead, especially early on like that. We have been playing some good hockey lately, we lost some games, and the confidence, it’s easy to get on it. When we score the first goal, we know we play some good hockey, it just gives us a good boost on the bench for the guys. The first two periods, we didn’t look back. We were playing hard hockey and we know they played last night. They had a really big win against St. Louis, so they were coming here tired and we had to jump on them. That’s what we did.
On how the team has changed...
Those games that we have played lately, we have to make sure we play a full 60 minutes. The game (against Minnesota) was ours. We just let them comeback in the game in the end and they stole two points from us. It’s got to be payback now, so we’ll take this one, put it in the bank, and tomorrow we’ll practice and be ready for Saturday.
Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz On Mental status of teams before game...
A lot of times when you go through tough times, like Edmonton has, the big wins give them momentum. With their win last night they came out with a lot of energy which is beneficial to their team. We act the same way off of a win but must stay focused and play our best.
Key for us to come out with a lot of energy for the first period and we came out and did pretty decent on the first and second.
We had some penalties that took the momentum out of our game but focused quickly on getting back on track.
Our third goal was very important to us. Our special teams did a real good job. Later, we had possession but it was our own wrong-doing when we turned it over and let them score on us.”
On Younger players...
They’ve have been productive and have scored many goals but just need to focus on details sometimes.
A good player to me is a player who can play both sides of the ice consistently.
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