NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators were battling a near-historic futility in terms of scoring entering their game on Friday. Earlier in the week, general manager David Poile made two waiver claims and called up a defenseman to shake up his team.
The moves worked almost as if scripted, with one of those claimed forwards, Zach Boychuk, registering a goal and the other, Bobby Butler, drawing three penalties in their respective debuts for Nashville, which beat Edmonton 6-0 at Bridgestone Arena.
"I thought it started with the attitude that you always want new guys to contribute and there was some urgency in our game," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "More than anything there was some joy. Right from the get-go, they were determined."
The only bad news for Nashville was that Patric Hornqvist left the game with about 16 minutes left in the second period clutching his shoulder and did not return. Trotz ruled Hornqvist out for Saturday's home game against Minnesota and said Hornqvist would need to be evaluated.
Edmonton's Theo Peckham rode him into the boards and Hornqvist, who scored the game-winning goal on Friday, appeared to jam his shoulder as he reached out his arm to brace himself against the glass.
With all of its scoring woes, Nashville could ill afford to lose Hornqvist, who scored twice in his last five games and has led the team in goals in two of the previous three seasons.
The game was only the second in Nashville's last seven in which the Predators scored more than one goal. They entered the night averaging fewer than two goals per game, putting them on pace to be the League's second-lowest scoring team in the last 63 years. Nashville was 1-5-0 in those previous six..
Nashville got off to a fast start, picking up a power-play goal by Hornqvist at 6:07 of the first period, as he swatted in a puck from close range. The goal was Hornqvist's third, assisted by Wilson and Mike Fisher. Butler, making his debut for the Predators, earned the power play when he drew a slashing call from Nick Schultz at 4:52; he later used his speed to draw a tripping call on Ryan Whitney at 10:23 of the second period and also drew a roughing call on Ryan Jones.
Seconds before Hornqvist's goal, Rinne kept the game scoreless when he stopped Jones on a shorthanded breakaway. Jones went in alone when Nashville's Sergei Kostitsyn, manning the point, fell down.
David Legwand sent Nashville into intermission up 2-0 when he scored the flukiest of goals. From behind the red line, he flipped the puck on net as if for a line change. The puck bounced toward the net toward Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk. He stabbed at it with his catching glove, but it dipped under his arm and went into the net with 69 seconds left in the period.
Trotz said he thought the play gave Nashville some confidence, something it has lacked recently.
Boychuk's goal came at 18:22 of the second, as he deftly deflected Weber's point shot.
"I think the whole team really wanted to respond and especially me, coming to a new team, meeting some new faces you definitely want to show your stuff early," said Boychuk, the 14th player taken in the 2008 NHL Draft. He has been waived twice this season, once by Carolina and once by Pittsburgh.
Earlier in the day, Trotz said he had high expectations for Butler and Boychuk. After the game, he said both had made a good first impression.
"Zach nailed one of the crossbar but he had lots of jump and he was getting into the interior," Trotz said. "… If you play like that, there's no reason why you can't – you can follow that up in the next game. First impressions were pretty good but that was just the first impressions.
"Can you follow that up tomorrow?"
Wilson added two goals in the third period, the second one coming on the power play. Wilson did not necessarily agree that it was a relief for the Predators to break out of such a scoring slump.
"It's a good feeling, but we realize we have to build on it," he said. "Maybe if we put together a string of games, 10 games, we'll feel pretty good about ourselves but right now it's just one game."
Edmonton entered with losses in four straight, three in regulation. For all of their young firepower, the Oilers have been shut out on consecutive nights and have not scored a power-play goal during the last five games (they did not earn a power play on Friday).
Edmonton is 1-4-2 on its nine-game road trip, with stops remaining in Chicago and Colorado. In three of its last four games, Edmonton has been outscored by 14-2 but coach Ralph Krueger was hopeful that some injured veterans – goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, defenseman Mark Fistric and center Shawn Horcoff – would soon rejoin the team and bring some "freshness."
Still, Krueger was asked about the team's lack of net presence and his answer seemed to act as a metaphor for everything that ails Edmonton right now.
"You just have to hate to lose that much and say, 'OK, this has really got to happen,'" Krueger said. "I have a feeling, I mean, if this one doesn't do it, I don't know what will. This has got to knock us really off our feet and say, 'Enough is enough' and 'What are the elements that aren't fitting and what are we doing that's not enough?'
"Having been in close games for so long and then starting to lose a few has obviously broken our psyche with the last two scores -- and the Minnesota [game] -- so three of the last four games are unacceptable."
|PPG - Patric Hornqvist (3) ASST: Colin Wilson (11), Mike Fisher (5)|
1 - 0 NSH
|David Legwand (4) ASST: Colin Wilson (12)|
2 - 0 NSH
|Rich Clune (2) ASST: Paul Gaustad (3), Sergei Kostitsyn (8)|
3 - 0 NSH
|Zach Boychuk (1) ASST: Shea Weber (7), Martin Erat (10)|
4 - 0 NSH
|Colin Wilson (6) ASST: Mike Fisher (6), Shea Weber (8)|
5 - 0 NSH
|PPG - Colin Wilson (7) ASST: Shea Weber (9), Craig Smith (3)|
6 - 0 NSH
|Nick Schultz Slashing against Bobby Butler|
|Mike Brown Fighting (maj) against Rich Clune|
|Rich Clune Fighting (maj) against Mike Brown|
|Theo Peckham Holding against Paul Gaustad|
|Paul Gaustad Roughing against Theo Peckham|
|Theo Peckham Roughing against Paul Gaustad|
|Ryan Whitney Tripping against Bobby Butler|
|Ryan Jones Roughing against Bobby Butler|