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GAME STORY: Oilers 3, Predators 2

The Oilers come from behind to defeat the Nashville Predators on Hockey Day In Canada

by Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - It all started with a bounce.

The Oilers might not have had it early, but a series of fortunate deflections late in the second helped find it.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Post-Game vs NSH 02.08.20

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The Oilers complete a three-game homestand on Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. MT.

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Leon Draisaitl found the scoresheet twice in the third period in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Nashville Predators on Hockey Day in Canada, helping stop a two-game losing streak in its tracks and lift the Oilers into second place in the Pacific Division with a 29-20-6 record.

Alex Chiasson got credit with his eighth marker of the season after Kyle Turris poked the puck into his own goal with 8.1 seconds left in the second period, signalling a swift change in the momentum at Rogers Place.

"Both teams competed hard for space, and that's what we were looking for from our team," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We wanted to compete hard and get out of the little funk we were in. We were able to do that and get two points."

The Oilers survived a slow start in the first period, losing the giveaway battle 11-2 in the opening 20 minutes before the turning point came late in a second period that saw the hosts outshoot Nashville 16-9.

"This time of the year, it's about sticking with it," Draisaitl said. "It doesn't have to be pretty. Two points are two points, so it's a gutty win for us. I think that's huge for our group."

Draisaitl connected with linemates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto on a quick transition out of the Oilers zone 3:42 into the third period, continuing a strong stretch for the Oilers second line since the recall of Yamamoto on December 29.

"I thought our line was good tonight," Draisaitl said. "We created, scored a big goal, so it was a good night."

The power play provided the game-winner with under seven minutes to go, with Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom notching their second assists of the night on a powerful one-timer from Draisaitl that would mark the German's 31st of the season.

Video: POST-GAME RAW | Draisaitl 02.08.20

Mike Smith, playing in his 600th NHL game, was steady in the crease for the Oilers with 27 saves on 29 shots as the netminder improved to 7-0-2 in his last nine starts.

"I think I've said it for the last few weeks now - I feel like my game's the best it's been all season long," Smith said. "I want to continue that in the most important games of the year."

Special teams for the Oilers found ways to contribute at key times throughout the full 60 minutes as their 2-for-4 power play converted on Draisaitl's winner and the penalty kill kept the Predators quiet with a 3-for-3 night.

"This game had a little bit of everything," Klefbom said. "Our power play stepped up when we really needed it, our penalty kill's been really strong all year, and Smitty had some really big saves."

Video: POST-GAME RAW | Smith 02.08.20

While the Oilers have the League's top two scorers to lean on, the dressing room knows that the work they put in as a collective unit will be the key to making the playoffs.

"We've seen our team when we've tried to out-skill teams and out-score teams, and it works for a game or two there," Smith said. "I think this team's figuring that out slowly, but we're figuring it out at important times of the season when we need to win games and move up in the standings.

"I feel like our team's starting to figure out that there's a certain way this team needs to play, and if we play like that we have a good chance at winning hockey games.

The Oilers await a visit from the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday that will cap off a three-game homestand.

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