Mike Smith made 30 saves for his fourth-straight win and Leon Draisaitl scored a pair of goals in a 4-2 victory for the Oilers over the Nashville Predators
EDMONTON, AB - Frigid outside temperatures in Edmonton couldn't stop the Oilers from catching fire.
The Oilers didn't show cold feet against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night at Rogers Place, winning 4-2 on the back of a pair of goals from Leon Draisaitl and 30 saves from goaltender Mike Smith.
The Oilers host the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday afternoon in their last game before the bye week. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 1:08 p.m. MT.
A hot 3-1-1 road trip and a heated Battle of Alberta had the Oilers back on home ice for two games before the bye week and All-Star break, hoping to carry their performance on the road into two crucial games against other playoff hopefuls.
"I thought as the game went on, we started to simplify things. It was a good game all around for all of us, it's a good team over there, so we're definitely happy to get those two points."
On a night when many of their direct competitors couldn't find victories, the Oilers did just that as they pulled within two points of the Arizona Coyotes for the Pacific Division lead with a 25-18-5 record ahead of Saturday afternoon's meeting with the Desert Dogs.
"Sometimes you just have to win," Draisaitl said. "It sounds weird, but that's how it is sometimes. You just have to bank two points and move on."
"We did that tonight and it's a big two points for us."
The Oilers win back-to-back home games for the first time since November, with Smith posting his fourth-straight victory and securing his first at Rogers Place since the Oilers defeated the Colorado Avalanche on November 14 in the second game of their last two-game home winning streak.
"It feels good to be playing well," Smith said. "As it creeps towards playoffs, you want to be playing your best hockey. I love the second part of the season and playing in big games to help the team get some big wins. It's fun to be in there right now."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring just over nine minutes in with a quick release from a face-off win by Draisaitl, extended his point streak to four games with his 13th of the season.
Filip Forsberg showed some magic on the opposing side, putting his own touch on the lacrosse goal that by sliding the puck onto his blade and potting the equalizing goal over Smith 1:14 later on the wrap-around to the top corner.
"That's pretty incredible to even think of pulling that off," Draisaitl said. "I think you could've had three highlight-reel goals this game, but Smitty stopped him on a few."
Colin Blackwell followed him up for a 2-1 Nashville lead, but a late power-play opportunity for the Oilers was cashed in by Draisaitl with 17 seconds on the clock in the opening period.
Dealing with the omittance of Zack Kassian due to suspension meant Josh Archibald would be the one to fill his shoes on the top line with James Neal and Connor McDavid, and the feisty winger made it count when he connected with his captain at the back door to lift the eventual game-winning goal over Pekka Rinne 9:09 into the middle frame.
"He maybe's played on that line three times, and he's got two goals. That's a good sign" Head Coach Dave Tippett said of his winger. "We knew what we were going to get from Arch. It kind of fit that mould that we were looking for. We wanted to check tonight and be a good checking team, and Archie on that line gives it some good checking."
The last game for the Oilers before the bye week and All-Star break goes Saturday afternoon from Rogers Place with a key divisional battle with Arizona.