EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference will miss his first game of the season Sunday against the Nashville Predators. Ference sustained a head injury in a 4-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday night.
"He took a shot in the head and they're evaluating him," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "He's going to be greatly missed. He's our captain and competes extremely hard every night. He's being playing against the other team's top lines a lot. That's a big hole to fill and the whole group will have to pick up his minutes and what he brings."
The Oilers are also still without right wing Ales Hemsky, who is recovering from a bone bruise in his foot after blocking a shot Jan. 14 against the Dallas Stars. Hemsky has been practicing with the team, but is still not cleared to play and will miss his fifth consecutive game.
The Predators may be without left wings Eric Nystrom and Viktor Stalberg against Edmonton. Both were ill and missed the morning skate and will be game-time decisions. Nystrom scored four goals in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames on Friday.
Sunday is the second of three games between Edmonton and Nashville this season. The Oilers defeated the Predators 3-0 in their first game on Nov. 28 in Nashville.
"They still have the great forwards up front and they have good role definition, they have a third line that goes pretty good," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "They have a guy like [Justin] Schultz on the back end that can really make things happen. I think they're playing pretty good structure and they're a dangerous team. You have to take a few elements of their game away or they can really, really light you up. Their skill level is off the charts when you let them play a real skilled game."
The Oilers go into Sunday winless in their previous six games and Predators have won four of their past six.
Carter Hutton gets the start in goal for the Predators in favor of Devan Dubnyk, who is making his first visit to Edmonton since being traded for center Matt Hendricks nearly two weeks ago.
"We've sort of been rotating them [goaltenders] more than anything," Trotz said. "Hutton is going in there, he gave us a good game in Vancouver and I think it'll probably take a little pressure of Devan from that standpoint."
Ben Scrivens gets the start in goal for the Oilers.
Here are the projected lineups for both teams:
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth – Sam Gagner – David Perron
Matt Hendricks – Boyd Gordon – Ryan Jones
Luke Gazdic – Mark Arcobello – Nail Yakupov
Nick Schultz – Justin Schultz
Martin Marincin – Jeff Petry
Corey Potter – Anton Belov
Scratched: Jesse Joensuu
Injured: Ales Hemsky (foot), Andrew Ference (head), Philip Larsen (illness)
Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Patric Hornqvist
Nick Spaling – David Legwand – Craig Smith
Rich Clune – Paul Gaustad – Viktor Stalberg
Eric Nystrom – Matt Cullen – Gabriel Bourque
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Michael Del Zotto – Seth Jones
Victor Bartley – Ryan Ellis
Scratched: Mattias Ekholm, Taylor Beck
Injured: Pekka Rinne (hip)