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Mully's Musings: at Edmonton

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
To break a losing streak, sometimes a team needs a lucky break or a bounce to go its way.

The Predators didn’t wait for that to happen. Instead, they went out and grabbed a victory by working hard.

Nashville snapped a four-game losing streak and defeated the Oilers 2-1 at Rexall Place on Monday night. The Preds lost their first two games of the season against Edmonton by a total score of 9-3, but bounced back to win their first game since Nov. 17, when they beat Toronto 4-1.

Nashville trailed 1-0 at the first intermission, but turned it on in the second period and received a power play goal from Captain Shea Weber. The offensive intensity carried through to the third period when Nick Spaling scored the eventual game-winner with 7:39 to go. It was set up by sharp, smart passes from Craig Smith and Jordin Tootoo.

The Predators outshot the Oilers 31-18 and showed grit. With 20 seconds to go in regulation and with Edmonton pulling goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, Nashville’s Mike Fisher sacrificed his body and blocked a huge shot.

You got the sense that if Nashville lost, it would have been a crushing blow. Despite a high-energy effort with tons of scoring chances, the losing streak would have continued. And with two more road games before heading back home, confidence may have been an issue.
Instead, Nashville received a jolt of positive vibes and ended its slide with an impressive effort. The Preds will play their third game in four nights on Tuesday when they head to Calgary. First, the musings.

Offensive aggressiveness: The second period was the best 20 minutes Nashville has played in the last four games, and might be one of the best single period performances by the team this season. Weber scored the power play goal, there were tons of scoring chances, the Preds won one-on-one battles, puck control was greatly improved, and they stuck to the game plan. Nashville had 16 shots on goal in the second. In Saturday’s game at Detroit, the Preds had 19 shots on the goal in the entire game. The second period changed the momentum of the game and may have been the spark the Preds needed to turn around the road trip.

Stepping in, stepping up: Anders Lindback made his second start of the season and his first ever against the Oilers. Filling in for No. 1 goaltender Pekka Rinne, he stopped 17 of 18 shots for the win and was credited with an assist. Lindback was sharp and his confidence continues to grow. He was shaken up with 13:07 to go in the third with the score tied 1-1. The injury occurred when a shot by Eric Belanger appeared to hit the uncovered right kneecap of Lindback. Play was stopped, but Lindback remained in the game. He made two great saves in the next four minutes to keep the game tied.

Geoffrion hurt: It’s been a rough season for Blake Geoffrion. The Nashville coaching staff sent him a message by making him a healthy scratch in the previous four games, but he returned to game action on Monday. Geoffrion was playing at a high level against the Oilers, until former Pred Ryan Jones leveled Geoffrion with 13:28 to go in the second. Play was stopped shortly after, and Geoffrion headed to the locker room and did not return. He is being listed with an upper-body injury.

F Nick Spaling: “It was good work by Smith keeping it in, and Tootoo finding me in front. We had to get back to our game plan. I think we did a good job for the most part, winning those (individual) battles. You never let up and there are no easy games. We finally got some shots through. That’s going to be our focus, getting pucks to the net and getting people to the net, too.”

F Nick Spaling, Nashville: Game-winning goal, +1 rating; a couple of other dangerous scoring opportunities earlier in the game
G Anders Lindback, Nashville: Stopped 17 of 18 shots and added his first career assist on the game-tying goal
G Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmonton: Stopped 29 of 31 shots and kept the Oilers in the game when the Preds were buzzing in the second period

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