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Short-handed Preds fall to Oilers in OT

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

Sillinger celebrates
Photo courtesy Edmonton Oilers
Mike Sillinger (left) won 19 of 23 face-offs, including one that set up Nashville's second goal, scored by Paul Kariya.
An abundance of penalties ended up costing the Nashville Predators two points Sunday afternoon in Edmonton, but gritty performances by the club's penalty killing units and especially goaltender Tomas Vokoun salvaged one point in the standings in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Oilers at Rexall Place. The Predators carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission but were shelled for the remainder of the game as a total of 10 penalties over the course of the remaining two periods and the overtime session left Nashville short-handed for more than 13 of the final 25 minutes. The Predators were outshot 32-6 after leading in the category 14-10 through one period.

"We came out and had a really good first period...," Predators associate coach Brent Peterson said. "We scored on the power play. We had 14 shots, and played just really strong. Then everything broke loose when we started taking four penalties in the second period. We were in the box the whole period, never got anything going. They had five-on-threes and everything, and we killed them all off. But that took the momentum away and then in the third period we took five more and ended up with 11 penalties [through three periods].

"It was just a real frustrating time for everybody and Tomas [Vokoun] just hung in there again and got us a point."

A hooking call to Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter 3:36 into overtime put Edmonton on a four-on-three power play that ended the game at 4:17 when Oilers blueliner Chris Pronger tallied his second goal of the afternoon. His earlier goal--the lone score of the third period--also came with Suter in the penalty box for hooking; it tied the game at 2-2 with 13:11 remaining in regulation.

The Predators built their first-period lead on goals by Scottie Upshall and Paul Kariya. Upshall opened the scoring 8:01 into the game when Nashville converted during a high-sticking double-minor to Jaroslav Spacek. In the Oilers' zone, Nashville defenseman Shea Weber sent the puck across to fellow blueliner Kimmo Timonen at the right point for a shot that Upshall--stationed in front of the net--blocked, located then lifted over the left pad of Edmonton goaltender Ty Conklin.

After Ryan Smyth scored on the Oilers' first power play just over five minutes later to knot it at 1-1, Kariya recaptured the lead with the game's only even-strength goal at 14:38. The play developed from a face-off win by Mike Sillinger in Edmonton's zone. Sillinger delivered the puck back to defenseman Marek Zidlicky for a point shot that Kariya deflected into the goal while screening Conklin in front.

Vokoun was forced to make two big saves as the first period came to a close--a sign of things to come. In the second, Predators penalties alternated with brilliant saves by Vokoun and valiant work by the penalty killers. In one stretch, Predators defenseman Danny Markov and Dan Hamhuis both had their sticks broken within seconds of each other following a face-off in their own zone. Greg Johnson handed his stick to Markov and Jerred Smithson handed his to Hamhuis (since it's more crucial for a defenseman to have a stick to block and clear pucks down low), and the foursome kept the buzzing Oilers at bay for roughly one minute until the net was knocked off of its moorings after a splendid save by Vokoun on Spacek. The Nashville goaltender stopped all 19 shots he faced in the middle period.

Nashville lost Markov to injury 4:13 into the third, reducing the defense corps to five men for the remainder of the game and making the fact that Nashville earned a point in the contest even more remarkable. Pronger's first goal tied it less than three minutes after Markov's exit, but Nashville dug in and killed off two more penalties, including 1:20 of a three-on-five disadvantage, to reach overtime.

The overtime loss bumps the Predators' season record to 35-19-7. Sunday's contest was the first of an important four-game West Coast trip that will take the team through Calgary, Vancouver and San Jose over the next six days.

Notes: The Predators remain unbeaten in regulation when they carry a lead into the third period, posting a record of 21-0-4... Nashville's penalty killers went eight-for-11 against Edmonton, and have nullified 62 of the last 68 power plays they've faced... Paul Kariya's goal Sunday was his 20th of the season, marking the eighth time in his career he's netted 20 or more. He becomes the Predators' fourth player to hit the 20-goal mark in 2005-06, joining Steve Sullivan, Scott Hartnell and Yanic Perreault... With his goal Sunday, Scottie Upshall now has three points (2g-1a) in his last four games. He also finished Sunday's game with a +1 rating to improve his team-high plus-minus rating to +9 for the season... Mike Sillinger assisted on Kariya's goal and now has three points (1g-2a) in his last four games... Marek Zidlicky was credited with the primary assist on Kariya's goal... Defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who assisted on Upshall's goal, set a new career-high in assists with 35... Defenseman Shea Weber, playing in his ninth game for Nashville this season, registered the second assist (and second point) of his career. Sunday's assist, which came on Upshall's goal, is Weber's first NHL power-play point... Defenseman Dan Hamhuis logged a team-high 26:53 of ice time, over four minutes more than the next closest Predator... Defenseman Danny Markov, who left the game with an ankle injury, is day-to-day... Attendance at Rexall Place was 16,839--a sellout.

Video: Watch the game highlights (1:26)

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