GAME: Nashville Predators (33-26-11-3) at Edmonton Oilers (30-27-12-4).
TIME: Friday, 9 p.m. EST.
The Nashville Predators are one point away from the best season in franchise
That won't matter much if they fail in their bid for their first playoff
Nashville hopes to end a season-high six-game winless streak when it
continues a four-game road trip against the surging Edmonton Oilers.
The Predators are one of four teams battling for one of the final two
playoff spots in the Western Conference. St. Louis and Los Angeles are also
involved while a late-season surge by Edmonton has made it a four-team race.
Although Nashville is mired in its longest winless streak of the season, it
has gained four points during that span (0-2-3-1).
After opening this trip with a 3-2 overtime loss at Detroit on Sunday, the
Predators needed a goal from Adam Hall with 22 seconds left in regulation to
salvage a 2-2 tie against Vancouver on Tuesday.
With 80 points, the Predators tied the 2000-01 team for the most in the
six-year history of the franchise.
"We're past that," goaltender Tomas Vokoun said of the team record. "It's
nice we're having a good season but we have a lot higher expectations than we
used to. We still have nine games left and we want to get in the playoffs."
Steve Sullivan assisted on Hall's goal, giving him nine goals and 15 assists
in 18 games since joining the Predators in a trade with Chicago.
Edmonton continued its strong play with a 3-2 victory over visiting Columbus
Georges Laraque and Ethan Moreau scored third-period goals for the Oilers,
who have points in 13 of 14 games (7-1-3-3).
"It was a big win for our team and it was a complete effort," goalie Ty
The Oilers proved they were serious about making a run at the playoffs when
they acquired forward Petr Nedved and goalie Jussi Markkanen from the New York
Rangers before the trade deadline.
Nedved has three goals and three assists in seven games with Edmonton while
Markkanen has stopped 77 of 83 shots in three starts (0-1-2).
STANDINGS (through March 17): Predators - 80 points, 3rd place, 16 PB,
Central Division. Oilers - 76 points, 4th place, 17 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Sullivan, 23 goals, 42 assists and 65 points;
Jordin Tootoo, 127 PIM. Oilers - Ryan Smyth and Raffi Torres, 20 goals; Smyth,
33 assists and 53 points; Jason Smith, 96 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 17): Predators - Power play: 18.0 percent (69
for 383), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (267 for 325), 23rd. Oilers
- Power play: 12.6 percent (38 for 302), 29th. Penalty killing: 80.5 percent
(256 for 318), 28th.
GOALTENDERS: Predators - Vokoun (30-25-10, 3 SO, 2.55 GAA); Chris Mason
(3-4-1, 1, 2.28). Oilers - Conklin (13-12-4, 1, 2.38); Markkanen (8-13-3, 2,
SEASON SERIES: Predators, 2-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 15; Tied, 2-2. At Nashville, Tenn., Moreau scored midway
through the third period to help the Oilers get a point.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 12-18-4-2 on the road; Oilers - 19-12-4-2 at