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Oilers open six-game homestand against Predators

by David Kalan

PREDATORS (29-29-10) at OILERS (24-36-9)


Last 10: Nashville 4-6-0; Edmonton 4-3-3

Season series: This is the final game of the season between the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton won each of the previous two games by a combined score of 8-1.

Big story: Both Nashville and Edmonton are in last place in their respective divisions, but as young teams in the rebuilding process, each organization is looking to see if their rosters are starting to mature. The Predators may be starting to see some of the fruits of those labors with three wins in their past four games.

Team Scope:

Predators: For the past decade, Nashville was among the NHL's most consistent teams, qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs seven times in eight seasons. In 2013 that run came to an end and it appears likely 2014 will be the second early spring for the Predators, But after losing four straight games to open the March, Nashville won three in a row, including a road win against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The winning streak came to an end Saturday when the Predators lost to the St. Louis Blues, 4-1, at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville has lost its last five games at home and its visit to Edmonton Tuesday night opens a four-game road trip with games against the Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Blackhawks.

Oilers: Despite being in last place in the competitive Pacific Division, Edmonton has been coming on in the past two months, going 9-4-3 in its past 16 games. It's an impressive run for a young team that could easily be playing out the string heading for its eighth straight season without a playoff berth.

"I think a real commitment to that togetherness as a team and fighting on even knowing that we're out of it," coach Dallas Eakins said Monday when asked about the key to the Oilers' recent success. "I think that's an extremely hard thing to do. It takes a very high level of commitment and the players are doing that."

The Oilers have an opportunity to build on their recent run when they play 10 of their final 13 games at home. When the Predators visit Tuesday it will be the opener of a six-game homestand.

Who's hot: Predators defenseman Roman Josi has four assists in the past three games. ... Oilers forward Taylor Hall has two goals and five assists in the past seven games.

Injury report: Nashville has a healthy lineup … Oilers forward Jesse Joensuu (ankle) and defenseman Anton Belov (partially torn oblique) are out.

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