HALL & HORCOFF TALLY FOR THE OILERS IN 3-2 LOSS
NASHVILLE - The Oilers got goals from Taylor Hall and Shawn Horcoff but three goals in a row for the Nashville Predators resulted in a 3-2 win for the home team on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Hall deflected a Corey Potter point shot on the power play 7:53 into the opening frame, and after the Preds got goals from Sergei Kostitsyn, Kevin Klein and Chris Mueller, Horcoff scored on a third-period deflection to close the gap. It was too little too late for the Oil, though, as Nashville held on to win by one.
"Our urgency was there in the third, but you're not going to make playoffs if you don't maintain that for 60 minutes," Head Coach Ralph Krueger said post-game. "Our five-on-five game didn't have enough passion to match what Nashville was bringing at us."
"It's just not enough... 20 minutes against good teams is just not enough," Horcoff added. "We've got to find a way to play loose and aggressive like we did in the third. Tonight we were just too tight."
Edmonton has now dropped back-to-back regulation decisions and is 0-2-2 in the last four games, dropping to 11-13-7 on the season.
The Oilers start Devan Dubnyk in net, Nick and Justin Schultz up front and the forward line of Taylor Hall, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky as the two-game road trip begins.
Magnus Paajarvi fires the first Oilers shot on goal about a minute and a half into the game, cruising down the right wing and flicking a wrist shot from a tough angle that is snagged by Pekka Rinne's glove.
Gabriel Bourque tries to feed Mike Fisher in front of the Oilers net but Dubnyk knocks the puck out of harm's way, seconds before Horcoff trips up Fisher and gets called for hooking for the first penalty of the night with 16:11 to go in the opening frame. A nice Dubnyk glove save denies Nashville's best scoring attempt on the man advantage, and the Oilers earn the successful penalty kill.
Corey Potter makes his presence felt early in his first action since March 15 against the Detroit Red Wings, laying a solid body-check on Taylor Beck at the Preds blue line. Not long after, with Patrick Hornqvist in the box for interference, Potter unleashes a wicked point shot that beats Rinne for his first goal of the season to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead with 12:07 on the clock.
Looking to rally his team after giving up the opening goal, Nashville's Rich Clune takes out Jordan Eberle with a hip-check in front of the Preds bench. Eberle is slow to get up but no worse for wear.
The Preds draw even with 8:09 to go in the opening frame as Fisher feeds a crisp pass to Sergei Kostitsyn on the doorstep for the one-timer past Dubnyk. For Kostitsyn, it's his third goal of the season.
Jonathon Blum gets called for high-sticking and the Oilers go back on the power play with 4:34 to go in the first period. They generate a handful of solid scoring chances but can't get another one past Rinne.
The opening frame comes to an end with the teams knotted 1-1 and Nashville leading shots 10-7. The Preds will start the middle frame with a 50-second power play as Ladislav Smid got called for interference with 1:10 to go in the first.
The Oilers open the middle frame by successfully killing the remainder of Smid's penalty but the Preds tally the go-ahead goal with 15:29 to go in the period. Seconds after Justin Schultz foils a Martin Erat breakaway attempt, Nashville executes some rapid passing and Kevin Klein is able to score his second of the year into an open Oilers cage.
Dubnyk makes his best save of the night with 9:32 to go in the middle frame as he flashes the leather for an empthatic glove stop on Chris Mueller on a two-on-one Nashville breakout.
Mueller certainly makes good on his next attempt, however, deking his way past the Oilers defence and roofing a hard shot over top of Dubnyk's glove-side shoulder, off the bar and in to make it 3-1 for the home side. It's Mueller's second goal of the season, coming with 8:27 left in the period.
Second period comes to an end with the Preds leading 3-1 on strength of their two goals in the middle frame. Nashville is also ahead in shots 22-14 through 40 minutes.
The Oilers start the third period down a centreman as Eric Belanger has left the game, re-aggravating his groin.
Coach Ralph Krueger has put the Oilers "kid line" back together as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is now playing centre between Hall and Eberle.
Early in the third, Mike Brown hammers Clune into the boards in the Oilers zone, exacting some revenge for the hard hit Clune made on Eberle in the opening frame.
Playing back with Horcoff and Hemsky, Hall and his linemates bursts into the Preds zone with Hemsky pass to a streaking Horcoff in the middle and the captain deflecting a shot that trickles through Rinne for an Oilers goal. The Preds lead is cut to 3-2 with 12:57 remaining.
The Oilers go back on the power play shortly thereafter as Blum goes off for boarding, but they are unable to score the equalizer, with Rinne making an impressive point-blank save on a Nail Yakupov one-timer with 10:35 to go.
Edmonton gets another key power-play opportunity as David Legwand chips the puck over the glass on a clearing attempt and gets called for delay of game.
Newly-formed forward line of Brown, Ryan Smyth and Ryan Jones goes to work in the Nashville zone, getting the puck on net. Brown pokes away at Rinne's pads, leading to a bit of a dust-up behind the Preds net, but no penalties are called.
Dubnyk goes to the bench for the extra attacker with 56 seconds remaining but the Oilers can't score the equalizer and drop a 3-2 decision.
-- Ryan Frankson, edmontonoilers.com