Through the first two games in the Nashville-Edmonton season series, talent trumped experience. On Monday night, experience finally prevailed.
Nashville used a tough and determined style to allow just one goal on 18 shots and beat the Oilers 2-1 at Rexall Place, snapping a four-game losing streak. Edmonton had won the first two games by a combined 9-3 margin.
Shea Weber and Nick Spaling netted a goal each for Nashville (11-8-4), and Anders Lindback added 17 saves for his first win of the season.
"We haven't done well at all against them this year," Weber said. "So we wanted to come out and shut their offense down. I think we did a pretty good job of that."
Spaling scored the winner for Nashville with 8:48 gone in the third period. Jordin Tootoo fished a puck out from behind the net and passed to Spaling, who blasted a one-timer past Nikolai Khabibulin for 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 an open spot, and Toots did a good job winning the puck battle behind the net."
The Predators overcame a goal-deficit courtesy of Jordan Eberle, who scored his eighth of the season at 7:07 of the first off a feed from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers (12-10-2) continue to cool after a torrid start to the season, and have now lost two straight and seven of 10.
Eberle started the scoring after a great individual play from the rookie Nugent-Hopkins, as the latter collected the puck at the right circle, made a quick turn and fired behind the net to a waiting Eberle. Eberle skated in front of Lindback, had his first shot deflected before collecting it again and swatting it past the goalie's far shoulder. Eberle's two-shot sequence were half of Edmonton's entire shot total for the period.
Nashville peppered Khabibulin with 16 shots in the second period. However, the Preds found a breakthrough only after Ryan Jones was given a major for elbowing Blake Geoffrion, who didn't return. With the power play winding down, Ryan Suter came back to retrieve the puck from Lindback. He passed ahead to Weber, who skated down the right side and sneaked the puck low to Khabibulin's far post for his fourth of the season at 11:34.
"I thought we played with a lot more of the things you need to win," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "I thought we played with a lot more intensity, a lot more structure."
Edmonton came close in the third period through when captain Shawn Horcoff's deflected shot caromed off the right post before Lindback smothered it just in front of the goal line. The save stood up to video review.
"I think as a team, we passed up opportunities to put pucks on net," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "To get rebounds, just to create havoc in their net – it was way too easy for them.
"It's the NHL. Shoot the puck."