The Predators returned home after a treacherous trip out West. Although the Predators were able to sneak away with two wins (first in Phoenix with a SO win and then against the Ducks in regulation), none of the games they played showed any confidence in the team and each game was played with a bit of a lackluster effort. But home games are always a confidence boost, right? Especially sweeping out the Ducks on Sunday.
Easy wins should never be assumed by a team like the Predators. Although the Edmonton Oilers are currently sitting in 14th in the league (yes, that means they are the second to last) and are dead last in the Northwest Division, the Oilers aren’t a team to just cast aside. In fact, in the last three games the Predators played against the Oilers, they only won one on November 28th in Edmonton 2-1. Otherwise, Edmonton, although clearly the weaker of the two teams, has embarrassed the Predators on both home and away ice.
Either the Predators were suffering from jet lag (which was still hanging around since heading to the West) or they were suffering from Rads-is-on-his-way syndrome. Either way, the Oilers brought their A-Game and the Predators did not. Here are the highlights from last night’s game in Music City:
- Brian McGrattan, Roman Josi, and Jack Hillen sat out on the scratched list last night against the Oilers. Along with those three, Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad rounded out the scratched bunch. Wilson is currently still on the fence with a “groin” injury, whereas Gaustad is quickly healing and could possibly be back for Thursday’s game in Pittsburgh.
- Former Predator, Darcy Hordichuk got the ball rolling at 12:50 for the Oilers, scoring his first goal of the season past Pekka Rinne.
- The Oilers quickly put themselves up 2-0 over the home team at 16:22 with a wrist shot from Ales Hemsky, his 7th goal of the season.
- David Legwand would relieve Preds fans at 19:53 in the 1st with his 17th goal of the season past Devan Dubnyk. Leggy was assisted by Shea Weber (29th assist) and rookie Gabriel Bourque (10th assist).
- Ales Hemsky would seal his 2nd goal of the night (8th of the season) 28 seconds into the 2nd, sending Pekka to the bench and bringing out Anders Lindback.
- Edmonton would continue to attack, putting the Oilers up 4-1 at 5:51 with a power play goal from Ryan Jones (15th goal of the season).
- Between this point and Nashville’s goal at 12:35, something happened. Something that sent both the team (the Predators) and the fans into an uproar. An apparent goal by Patric Hornqvist was waved off by the officials, even though it was clearly and quite obviously a goal. The fans clearly shared their feelings with the refs, and even the Oilers announcers were said to have said it was a terrible call.
- The refs tried to make up the slip in judgement by giving the Predators a 5-on-3. Patric Hornqvist sealed a goal at 12:35 for his 24th goal of the season. Mike Fisher (23rd assist) and Martin Erat (39th assist) assisted on the power play goal.
- The Oilers would end the 2nd Period with another goal from Ales Hemsky at 14:03, giving the Czech his first ever Hat Trick in the NHL.
- David Legwand would seal his second goal of the night at 4:18 in the 3rd, his 18th goal of the season. Patric Hornqvist (13th assist) and Gabriel Bourque (11th assist) were back in the lineup with Leggy, assisting him on the goal.
- Sam Gagner would seal any chance of the Predators returning to the game with an empty-netter at 18:19 for his 16th goal of the season.
- Pekka Rinne has been looking a bit sluggish lately, and last night showed through his padding. Pekka was pulled early in the 2nd Period, right after Ales Hemsky sealed his second goal of the night. Anders played well, blocking 10 of 12 shots on net. Edmonton resembled the Predators in that they managed to still win, dispite only having 20 shots on goal. The Predators took an outstanding 41, but the accuracy of the shots failed against goalie, Devan Dubnyk.
- The Predators only had two penalties compared to Edmonton’s five, but the Predators just couldn’t find a way to capitalize on them, minus one. Here are the two penalty boxers:
- Shea Weber – 4:09 2nd Period – Hi-Sticking
- Francis Bouillon – 14:28 3rd Period – Roughing
Sloppy plays equal a short time in the playoffs. The Predators have been struggling as of late and, with the playoffs inching ever so closer, now is not the time to slack-off. Lackluster plays and puck-handling mistakes lead to quick “couch” time, as we’d like to call it.
As expected, Alexander Radulov made it into Nashville late last night, stopping by the Bridgestone Arena to meet with General Manager David Poile, Head Coach Barry Trotz, and other members of the staff and team. Radulov practiced with the team this morning (Wednesday, March 21st) and is expected to make the trip to Pittsburgh with the team on Thursday. Whether or not he will hit the ice tomorrow is still in question, but he was placed on a line with Legwand and Hornqvist and is expected to play Saturday in Nashville against the Winnipeg Jets.
Alexander Radulov stated that he was happy to be back in Nashville and was ready to play tomorrow against Pittsburgh, but all decisions will be decided upon tomorrow. Here a picture from the press conference this morning:
Again, one player (Radulov…cough) is not going to save the Predators from their sloppy mistakes. Yes, Radulov will help tremendously, but it may take a game or two before he gets into the swing of things back here in the NHL (Yes, there is a huge difference between the KHL and the NHL). The Predators are off to Pittsburgh for the night tomorrow to take on Steve Sullivan, Sidney Crosby, and the Penguins at 6PM. The Predators return to Nashville on Saturday to welcome the Winnipeg Jets at a special 6PM start time.
(Photo credit: Kristen Jerkins Photography)