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Game Day: Preds vs. Oilers

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(34-22-13) Nashville Predators vs. Edmonton Oilers (27-37-7)
  8 P.M. CT | Rexall Place | #NSHvsEDM
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game

The Nashville Predators conclude their five-game road trip tonight in the province of Alberta when they take on the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Tonight’s contest will be Nashville's final visit to Edmonton's current home; the Oilers are set to begin play in Rogers Place next season.

The Preds saw their franchise-record, 14-game point streak come to an end on Saturday night in Vancouver with a 4-2 loss to the Canucks. Nashville remains 2-1-1 on their current road trip, including victories over Colorado and Winnipeg. Edmonton lost 4-0 to Arizona on Saturday night and are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.

During the Predators 14-game streak, the club allowed two goals or fewer on nine occasions, shutting out the opposition three times. Nashville went 8-for-41 on the power play (19.5 percent) and killed off 32-of-38 chances against (84.2 percent). They also averaged 3.21 goals per game and allowed 2.01 goals per game.

Winger Filip Forsberg has scored 28 goals so far this season, extending a career high in the category (previously 26 goals set last season). Eighteen of those goals have come since the start of the calendar year, and his 18 goals in that span are also the most by any member of the Preds, which accounts for 20.9 percent of the team’s total goal production (18-of-86). Forsberg was tied for the League lead in goals during the month of February with 12, setting a franchise record for most goals by a Pred in a single month.

Captain Shea Weber is one goal shy of surpassing Martin Erat for sole possession of second on the franchise’s all-time goals list. Erat had 163 goals with the Nashville Predators, while David Legwand (210 goals) is the franchise leader in goals. Weber has 17 goals so far this season, the eighth time in his career he's reached the 15-goal plateau.

Forsberg's 28 goals and 52 points lead Nashville's offensive production, followed by defenseman Roman Josi, who has 49 points on the season. Mike Ribeiro has 47 points, including a team-leading 40 assists, while Weber's 43 points are fourth on the team. James Neal has 23 goals on the season; Craig Smith has tallied 18 times. Pekka Rinne is 27-19-10 on the season; Carter Hutton is 7-2-3 between the pipes.

Weber has 11 points (3g-8a) in his last 14 outings against the Oilers. Ribeiro has 36 points (10g-26a) in 41 career games against Edmonton, including 11 multi-point outings, and Forsberg has five points in five career games versus the Oilers (4g-1a).

Taylor Hall leads the Oilers with 22 goals and 57 points, followed by Leon Draisaitl with 46 points and Jordan Eberle, who has 20 goals and 40 points. Connor McDavid, the first overall pick in the 2015 Draft, has 14 goals and 35 points in 34 games for the Oilers. Cam Talbot owns a 17-24-4 record between the pipes for Edmonton.

The Predators have won the first two games against the Oilers by a combined 6-1 score this season. Forsberg and Mike Fisher co-lead the team in goal scoring in the season series (each with two), with Rinne posting a combined .982 save percentage and a 0.50 goals-against average in the two appearances. The penalty kill has been perfect for Nashville, stopping all eight Oiler power plays.

The Predators are 17-11-3 all-time at Rexall Place and their 17 wins are the fourth-most by the club in any NHL building. All-time, the Preds are 35-23-6 against Edmonton and have won their last five meetings with the Oilers.

A Final Skate at Rexall Place:

To view a photo gallery of Predators games at Rexall place over the years,
click here, or on the photo above.

Step within the walls of Rexall Place and pause. Listen closely enough, and you can still hear the cheers as a young Wayne Gretzky skates around with two outstretched arms holding the Stanley Cup aloft. At least that’s what people say.

There’s no denying the history that’s been made within the walls of the 42-year-old arena in Edmonton. The host to seven Stanley Cup Finals, thousands of games and once home to the game’s greatest player, it’s worth a moment to consider your surroundings once within Rexall. Especially when it’s your last time there.

With the Edmonton Oilers headed to Rogers Place for the 2016-17 campaign, tonight’s contest marks the Nashville Predators last time skating at the Oil’s old home, something they reflected on after Monday’s morning skate.

“It’s one of the legendary buildings, and a lot of cool hockey games have been played in this building,” Preds netminder Pekka Rinne said. “Probably the first time I played here, seeing all the names in the rafters, retired numbers and Stanley Cups, I think that’s pretty cool the first time you see it.”

A key member of one of Rexall’s seven Cup Finals, Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette recalls a stinging loss from the Carolina Hurricanes’ eventual Stanley Cup victory in 2006.

“I’d probably go back to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final with Carolina,” Laviolette said. “I don’t know if it was a good memory, we got hammered in Game Six. It was devastating how bad we got beat in that game. I think it was two minutes to go in the second period and the shots were something like 28 to 7. It was just a real tough game for us. It was a good job by our team to bounce back [in Game Seven] at that time. Unfortunately it’s not a good memory, it’s just a memory.”

Like Laviolette’s recollection, maybe all the Preds’ Rexall moments aren’t Hollywood worthy.

“I remember at the beginning of one game the oil rig (that the Oilers skate beneath when they enter the ice), it got stuck halfway in midair, and we all thought it was going to come down on us,” winger Colin Wilson said laughing. “That’s my favorite.”

Still, James Neal and Mike Fisher say - even though they were quite young at the time - growing up Gretzky fans, now that they have the chance to skate at the same rink where the Great One once laced them up, it’s an opportunity to be cherished. Nashville d-man Anthony Bitetto is looking forward to checking off his first skate at Rexall just in time.

“It’s kind of weird because it’s your first and last game in this building, it’s going to be a fun night,” Bitetto said. “It’s special, it is one of the rinks you put on your checklist as a kid. Especially for me, one of my favorite players growing up was Mark Messier with him playing here, so for me to be on the same ice as him, is very cool. He was a big guy for New York when I was a kid. I think it’s a special moment.”

Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators:

Calle Jarnkrok Ryan Johansen James Neal
Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro Craig Smith
Miikka Salomaki Mike Fisher Viktor Arvidsson
Colin Wilson Colton Sissons Austin Watson
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis
Anthony Bitetto Barret Jackman


Goaltenders: Pekka Rinne is the projected starter in net with Carter Hutton serving as the backup.

Extra: (D) Petter Granberg, (F) Paul Gaustad (upper-body), (F) Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body), (F) Eric Nystrom (IR; lower-body)

Edmonton Oilers:

Taylor Hall Connor McDavid Zack Kassian
Patrick Maroon Leon Draisaitl Jordan Eberle
Lauri Korpikoski Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Nail Yakupov
Adam Cracknell Mark Letestu Iiro Pakarinen
Andrej Sekera Mark Fayne
Griffin Reinhart Adam Clendening
Nikita Nikitin Jordan Oesterle


Goaltenders:  Laurent Brossoit is the projected starter in net with Cam Talbot serving as the backup.

Extra: (D) Andrew Ference, (D) Oscar Klefbom, (D) Eric Gryba, (F) Matt Hendricks, (D) Darnell Nurse, (D) Adam Pardy

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