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Oilers top Predators 5-1

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

Martin Erat gave the Nashville Predators an early lead against the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night, but a breakaway goal by Oilers defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron turned the game around and a one-goal, three-assist performance by right wing Ales Hemsky propelled Edmonton to a 5-1 victory at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. The loss drops Nashville's record to 8-1-1.

"We didn't have the same work ethic as they did," said Nashville right wing Steve Sullivan. "There's no excuse for that. They had a tough game against Dallas last night, flew in late, and they had better legs than us. That's unacceptable."

Nashville gained the early lead while on their first power play of the game. With Edmonton's Cory Cross in the box for cross-checking, Erat beat Oilers goaltender Jussi Markkanen with a shot from the right side at 3:15 of the first period. Erat and center Yanic Perreault were both streaking into the offensive zone pursuing a dumped puck. Perreault outhustled an Oilers defender to the puck and delivered it to Erat for the opening goal.

Ryan Smyth tied it at 1-1 for Edmonton at the 8:00 mark, after Hemsky drove down the middle of the ice toward goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Hemsky was tied up by a Predator but Smyth followed the play, retrieved the puck and put it to the right of Vokoun for his third goal of the season.

The tie carried over into the second period. The Oilers got their second goal at 4:42 from Marc-Andre Bergeron, who had served two minutes for the first penalty call of the period and emerged just as Cross reeled in the puck in his own zone. Cross sent a lengthy pass to Bergeron behind the Predators' defense at center ice. Bergeron skated in alone on Vokoun and beat him on the backhand to make it 2-1.

"I think Bergeron's goal really was a goal that put a little bit of a dagger [in us] and knocked our momentum out," said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz.

"I didn't like our resiliency tonight," he added. "When we got down a little bit we didn't dig in like we did [in earlier games]."

Hemsky added to the Oilers lead at 12:43, finishing off a nice tic-tac-toe passing sequence while on the power play. Defenseman Chris Pronger delivered the puck from the right point down to Marty Reasoner at the right side of the goal. Reasoner sent a pass across the crease to Hemsky in the left face-off circle, and Hemsky put it past Vokoun for a 3-1 lead.

Nashville's David Legwand drew a penalty after splitting two defenders at 16:46, but the Predators were unable to capitalize with the man advantage. After Erat's power-play goal in the first, the Preds went 0 for 6 on the power play for the remainder of the game.

In the third period, Jarret Stoll and Steve Staios followed Hemsky's goal with power play tallies of their own to seal the 5-1 victory. The Oilers finished the night 3-of-6 on the man advantage.

"Positionally in our own end we were strong," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "They had a good territorial advantage over us in the third period, but they didn't get a lot."

Edmonton outshot Nashville 31 to 24, including a 13 to six advantage in the third. Markkanen stopped the final 23 shots to shut down the Predators. At the other end, Vokoun saved 26 of 31.

Nashville now embarks on a three-game West Coast swing, opening with a 9:30 p.m. contest against Anaheim on Tuesday, Nov. 1. That game will be televised on FSN South and broadcast on 104.5 FM The Zone. The trip continues with a Wednesday night game in San Jose and a Saturday matinee in Los Angeles. The Predators' next home game is a Tuesday, Nov. 8 rematch with the Oilers.

Notes: Center Yanic Perreault extended his scoring streak to four games with his assist on Martin Erat's goal. Perreault now has two goals and two assists in that span... Scott Walker and Danny Markov are on the injury reserve list and did not dress for the game... Prior to Saturday night, the Predators had been undefeated when scoring first (4-0-0). They were also undefeated when trailing after two periods (3-0-0). Both strings were snapped in the loss... Nashville was outshot 31 to 24 by Edmonton, making it eight out of 10 contests this year in which the Preds have been outshot... The loss ended Nashville's home unbeaten streak at five games... With his assist in Saturday's game, Dan Hamhuis has accumulated points in four of his last five games (1 goal, 5 assists)... Vokoun surrendered more than four goals in a game for the first time since March 19, 2004--the last time Nashville and Edmonton met. The Oilers won that game in Edmonton 5-4... Attendance for Saturday's game was 14,610.

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