Finding themselves tied for first coming out of the All-Star Game was foreign territory for most of the players on the Edmonton Oilers— the adjustment thus far to that reality has not been a smooth one, as the Oilers fell 0-2 to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night in a stifling, frustrating match.
Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was stellar, making 31 saves to earn his second shutout of the season, as the Oilers had their share of looks but failed to capitalize on any bounces. Some weak defensive zone coverage by their top line led to two Nashville goals in the second period, and that was all it would take as the Oilers’ second loss in a row sapped the momentum they had after beating two California teams back-to-back prior to the All-Star break (remember those times?). The San Jose Sharks still sit in first place in the Pacific Division with a two-point lead, now with two games in hand over the third-place Oilers.
Viktor Arvidsson opened the scoring at 1:26 in the second period with a blistering shot that beat Cam Talbot shoulder-side on a break created by a turnover. Ryan Johansen then made it 2-0 with 38.2 seconds to go in the same period with his ninth of the season, one-timing the pass from Arvidsson home for the second goal scored in the game with the top line on the ice.
Coach McLellan emphasized that tonight’s performance was an improvement upon the one in Minnesota on Tuesday night, but the team has some definite work to do.
“That was a playoff game, I thought it had playoff intensity; we're at that time of year,” he said after the game. “We didn't make many mistakes, we made a few, they capitalized on it. I thought they had more players going than we did. We missed some guys that we have to count on.”
Players like Jordan Eberle, who had been playing well prior to the break, were not able to register a single shot on net.
“There were a few players [who] played on the power play, didn't even get a shot on goal tonight,” continued McLellan. “So a little poke in the ribs tomorrow for a few guys. It's playoffs time- you've gotta step up, or you're gonna fall off.”
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (+9/-18), Jordan Eberle (+9/-14), and Milan Lucic (+12/-18) had less than stellar nights.
- Kris Russell led the team with six shot blocks, including one excruciating one off his shin, rebounding from a subpar game against Minnesota
- The top line of Maroon, McDavid and Draisaitl led the team in CF% (all three above 75%) but were on ice for both Predators goals
Game in a Haiku
Take a magic sponge
And erase tonight’s game from