James Neal dished out three assists and five different Nashville Predators found the back of the net as they defeated the Edmonton Oilers by a 5-4 final on Sunday evening at Bridgestone Arena. The result gives the Preds three consecutive wins and seven of a possible eight points to conclude their four-game home stand.
Nashville has also now swept the season series over the Oilers for three consecutive seasons, defeating them in nine games in a row, outscoring them 26-12 during that span.
"Coming off the game yesterday and the schedule the way it has been since the break has not been easy," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "We knew today was going to be a tough game; our guys played extremely hard. Edmonton played well. They're a dangerous team capable of scoring goals in bunches. I really liked the effort from our guys."
An early power-play gave the Preds the start they were looking for when Ryan Ellis hammered home his 10th of the season to tie a career high and give his club a 1-0 lead. Connor McDavid evened the score less than a minute later, but another man advantage before the first was out saw Neal connect a slick backhand pass to Filip Forsberg, who wired a shot past Cam Talbot, giving him eight goals in his last four outings.
The second stanza saw Vernon Fiddler score his first since becoming a member of the Preds for the second time, and Colin Wilson added his 10th of the season, but Edmonton tallied twice on the power play and once more before the period was out for a 4-4 draw after 40 minutes.
Another power play in the third saw Neal dish again, this time to Viktor Arvidsson, and after a lengthy review for offside, the goal was confirmed to put Nashville ahead once more. That was all the insurance Pekka Rinne - with a little help from Ryan Ellis as time wound down - needed for the rest of the night, as he stopped 28 shots in total to collect his 24th victory of the season.
"I thought we played well in the four games, I mean seven out of eight points against a lot of good teams definitely gives us confidence going forward," defenseman Roman Josi said. "I thought we put some good efforts, a 60-minute effort, not just 20 or 40 minutes."
Video: EDM@NSH: Forsberg finishes Neal's fancy feed for PPG
James Neal might have eyes in the back of his head. The Nashville forward set up two power-play goals on the evening - one to Filip Forsberg, the other to Viktor Arvidsson - with no-look passes both worthy of more than a few views by those in attendance.
For Neal, who hasn't found the back of the net as much as he'd like to of late, the level of skill he possesses was still very much on display Sunday evening, setting up his teammates with three primary assists in total.
Video: EDM@NSH: Arvidsson bangs in Neal's feed for PPG
"He's a goal-scorer, so he is capable of scoring goals, but he's also a very good player," Laviolette said of Neal. "Tonight, he took what was available and he made a couple of beautiful plays on the power play. He had a strong game for us today."
"We're used to him getting all the goals, and I think in the last couple games, he's got a fair amount of helpers," defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "You don't notice the helpers as much, but the two plays he made were blind passes right on the tape, the second was something special. It's good to see him getting back in the point column, we need that going forward."
Seven of Eight:
Video: EDM@NSH: Wilson roofs a backhand from close range
The Predators started off their four-game home stand with a 6-5 overtime loss to Calgary, but other than that, they collected every available point the rest of the way - seven out of eight overall - to solidify their positioning of third in the Central Division with six weeks to play in the regular season.
Key reasons for the success? The play of Nashville's top line for one, with Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson combining for 22 points during the home stand, including 10 from Forsberg alone.
"It's unbelievable, I guess he had a good week," Josi said of Forsberg. "You saw that coming, he's such a talented player, you see him shooting at practice, and he's got one of the best shots in the League. It's just a matter of time; eight goals in four games, that's really impressive, but you knew he was going to break out sometime."
"We have confidence playing at home, and we love playing here," forward James Neal said. "Especially back-to-back games on the weekend, everyone's excited. It was fun to play."
Video: Preds ride hot power play to 5-4 win over Oilers
Filip Forsberg now has goals in four-straight games and 10 points in his last four games (8g-2a).
P.K. Subban recorded his fourth multi-assist game in his last nine contests. He has 12 points (1g-11a) in those nine games.
Ryan Johansen has stretched his assist streak to a season-high four games (0g-7a).
The Predators have concluded their four-game home stand and will now head out on the road for a pair of games, beginning on Tuesday night in Buffalo against the Sabres. It's then on to Montreal on Thursday, marking the first time P.K. Subban will play at Bell Centre since Nashville acquired him last summer.