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Oilers top Predators 2-1 in shootout

by Robin Brownlee
EDMONTON, Alta. -- A rookie and a 36-year-old goaltender cost the Nashville Predators a valuable point.

First-year forward Linus Omark's shootout goal and Martin Gerber's goaltending gave the Edmonton Oilers a 2-1 victory against Nashville on Tuesday night.

Gerber, a 36-year-old who has spent most of the season in the AHL with the Oklahoma City Barons, improved to 3-0-0 in three starts with the Oilers by stopping 34 shots through 65 minutes and three more in the tie-breaker.

"It always feels good if you're winning," said Gerber, who stopped Cody Franson in the shootout for the win. "That always gives you confidence and it's a lot of fun, too."

The save on Franson came after Omark scored in the fourth round by sliding a shot between Pekka Rinne's pads after a spectacular move.

Gerber's performance snapped a string of four straight Nashville wins in Edmonton it sent the Predators to their fifth loss in six games. They have 73 points, ninth in the West and one behind a trio of teams tied for the last three playoff berths.

"It goes to a shootout and you never know what's going to happen," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We wanted two points. We need two points every night. We're still trailing the pack a little bit here. We wanted two, we got one. It's disappointing, but at the same time, one is a little better than nothing."

Despite a 15-4 record against Edmonton in the last 19 meetings since the 2006-07 season, it's the second straight time the Predators have lost to the Oilers. They were blanked 4-0 on Feb. 7 despite taking 37 shots at Devan Dubnyk. In this game, they had just one goal to show for 35 shots.

"I looked at the last two games and we outshot Edmonton 72-48 and we've got one goal," Trotz said. "We're shooting blanks against Edmonton. Obviously, we're going to have to let this one go and go into Vancouver and get some points."

The Predators, who snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Columbus 3-2 on Sunday, played like a team desperate to climb back into a playoff spot in the first period as they took the play to the Oilers and fired 18 shots at Gerber.

The payoff came 12:45 in when Blake Geoffrion, grandson of Hall-of-Famer Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion, scored his first NHL goal, tucking a shot under the crossbar from in tight on a pass from Ryan Suter.

"It's definitely frustrating for us," Geoffrion said. "We had our chances to score and we outshot them pretty badly in the first two periods, but Gerber played really well."

The Oilers, blanked 5-0 by St. Louis and edged 3-2 by Boston in the first two games of a four-game homestand, spent most of the first 20 minutes on their heels.

Even so, they got even on Vandermeer's second goal of the season just 41 seconds after Geoffrion's goal and could have had another, despite managing just seven shots at Rinne, when Ales Hemsky rattled a shot off the post.

"I think as the game wore on we got better," Edmonton captain Shawn Horcoff said. "The first wasn't great, obviously. The second I thought we got a little bit better. In the third, we picked our tempo up and had some chances to win that game. You've got to take positives from that. We hung in there and we got great goaltending."

It was Nashville's turn to reel in the third period and overtime before Omark, Edmonton's fourth shooter, scored and Gerber closed it out.

"I just want to get the best out of this season and see how things go," said Gerber, who is behind injured Nikolai Khabibulin and Dubnyk on Edmonton's depth chart. "That's all I'm really focused on right now.

"We gave them a lot of shots, but after that we battled pretty hard in front of our net. We were not that focused, I think, from the start, but as the game went on I think we really got into the game."

The Oilers got a scare in the first period when defenseman Tom Gilbert, who has played 319 consecutive games, was hit near the left eye by a deflected shot 15 minutes into the game. Gilbert returned for the second period despite considerable swelling near the eye.
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