EDMONTON, AB - Craig Smith scored two goals as the Oilers had their four-game win streak snapped by the visiting Nashville Predators by a score of 4-1.
“Our execution wasn’t there,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought it was close but, whether it was a pass that was just a little bit off or even when we put it on the guy’s tape hard, we were having trouble handling it for some reason. It just wasn’t there for, that’s not for all of our guys but for a number of them."
The Oilers caught a few breaks in the first period, which helped keep the game scoreless after 20 minutes. The Predators outshot the Oilers 11-3, hit a post and had a goal taken away from them in the opening frame.
At 1:35 of the first, it appeared as though Smith put the puck behind goaltender Ben Scrivens. However, the official was in the process of blowing the whistle and it was ruled no goal after a lengthy review.
“I thought it was a goal, you always think it’s a goal,” Smith said. “It was a tough bounce. The last time we were in this building we had it taken away from us. But it only creates havoc for them and some stress on the other side of the bench. We felt good, we had a chance right away and that’s what you’ve got to build on.”
Just 19 seconds into the second period, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fired a shot over the glove of Rinne. The puck ringed off the crossbar and was initially called a goal. But after review, it was determined that the puck never entered the net so the game remained scoreless.
At 6:23 of the second, the Predators got the game’s first goal. Roman Josi’s shot rebounded off the pad of Scrivens into traffic out in front. Smith pounced on the rebound for his second goal of the season. Derek Roy earned the second assist.
1:26 after that goal, the Predators increased their lead. Colin Wilson passed the puck across the face of the goaltender on a rush and Taylor Beck potted his first goal of the season in the back of the open net. Mattias Ekholm recorded an assist on the goal as well.
Any hopes of the Oilers drawing within one quickly in the third were dashed just 24 seconds into the final frame. Shea Weber scored on a rocket of a shot from just inside the blueline to give Nashville the 3-0 lead. Mike Ribeiro recorded the lone assist.
Oilers Boyd Gordon hit the post moments after the Weber goal and then shortly after that Justin Schultz was denied by Rinne on a great wraparound chance.
Hall scored his sixth goal of the season at 8:54 of the third to make it a 3-1 game. Nugent-Hopkins snapped a shot on Rinne and the Nashville goaltender kicked out a juicy rebound right to Hall. The Oilers winger was right on target, burying the puck in the largely open net to give the home team some momentum. Jordan Eberle recorded the second assist on the goal.
“Tonight wasn’t really an effort that deserved two points but at times it was there to be taken and unfortunately we gave up the lead and couldn’t get it back,” Hall said.
The momentum came to a halt as Matt Cullen set up Smith for the dagger at 12:24 of the final period. Josi picked up his second assist of the night on that goal. Nashville took the 4-1 lead.
Rinne made 26 saves on the night for Nashville as the Oilers moved to 0-5-1 against the Western Conference this season.
“There are no excuses,” Oilers winger Teddy Purcell said. “Every team in this league is a real good team. Maybe we have a little bit more swagger against teams in the East but to win and make the playoffs we’re going to have to bring that over to the West. We’ve got a couple of days off here to regroup, learn from our mistakes and hopefully get on track here for our next game.”