Nashville Predators pull ahead early, hold on late to beat Edmonton 5-3

The high-flying Nashville Predators (yes, you read that right) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening period tonight in Edmonton, but had to withstand an Oilers team which finally responded in the 3rd period. Ultimately the Preds held on for the 5-3 win, led by Ryan Jones with a goal and two assists, and Pekka Rinne with 38 saves.

The win lifted Nashville into 4th place in the Western Conference, leaping past Phoenix, which lost at home to San Jose, and idle Colorado.

With the five-goal outburst, the Nashville Predators are now in the Top 10 in Goals For/Game, at 2.81. Chew on that, Ross McKeon.

Follow after the jump for video highlights, reaction, and advanced even-strength stats...

The Oilers certainly had to be frustrated with how the game started. With Nashville having played the night before, whereas Edmonton had several days off to conduct a mini-camp, the expectation was that the Oilers would come out buzzing. Instead, it was the Preds who got on the scoreboard early and often. A Shea Weber blast opened the scoring, followed by a Marcel Goc backhander. A last-minute goal by J.P. Dumont pushed the lead to 3-0 in the first period, despite the Oilers actually holding a 13-11 shots advantage.

When Patric Hornqvist added his 18th goal of the season in the second, it seemed like a rout was on. In the third, however, the Oilers finally came out with a determined effort, and began to reap some rewards. While they never had a chance to actually tie the game, consecutive goals by J.F. Jacques and Ryan Potulny made it 4-2 with 5:31 remaining. A quick answer by Ryan Jones pushed the Preds lead back to 3, however, and even though Dustin Penner scored in the final minute, the outcome was no longer in doubt.

In the end, six different Preds had multi-point nights, as Shea Weber, Marcel Goc, Patric Hornqvist and J.P. Dumont each had a goal and an assist. Cal O'Reilly had two assists as well, and Jones, as mentioned earlier, had three points. His assist on the opening goal by Weber was a beauty, too; after failing to score on a backhander, he picked up his own rebound, wheeled, and found the open defenseman cruising in for a one-timer.

This Western Canada road trip concludes Friday in Calgary, where Nashville won 5-3 in their previous visit on December 19.

The Preds return home Monday, January 18 vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs. For discounted tickets to this or any other Nashville Predators home game, you can follow this link and use the special offer code "PREDS".

Checking out the advanced stats, kudos have to go out to Marcel Goc, who has assumed additional duty in Jason Arnott's absence and performed admirably (might he make me a believer? Not quite yet...). The line of Goc with Steve Sullivan and Patric Hornqvist represented the only group of players to get the better of things in the Shots On Goal +/-, whereas the entire team was negative on the Corsi side of things.

That's not entirely unexpected, as teams that hold a lead tend to take fewer shots on goal, just as those trying to catch up fire more pucks at the net. The negative totals we see here are, in part, due to the fact that the Preds were up 2-0 about five minutes into the game, and 4-0 by the midpoint. The Total Shots for both teams was 81-53 in favor of Edmonton, but buried within there were 25 Blocked Shots by the Preds. They knew that the Oilers were going to fire away, and they did their best to hold on.

 Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 Marcel Goc C 18:00 2 0 2 1 11 7 4 20 21 -1
 Steve Sullivan L 17:06 2 1 0 0 10 7 3 19 20 -1
 Patric Hornqvist R 16:25 4 2 1 1 9 7 2 17 22 -5
 David Legwand C 15:31 3 0 0 0 7 12 -5 12 20 -8
 Joel Ward R 15:13 1 0 2 0 6 11 -5 11 18 -7
 J P Dumont R 14:56 1 1 0 0 9 14 -5 15 24 -9
 Cal O'Reilly C 14:22 1 0 0 1 7 14 -7 12 23 -11
 Martin Erat R 14:21 1 1 0 3 7 10 -3 12 19 -7
 Ryan Jones L 13:44 3 1 1 1 7 14 -7 12 23 -11
 Andreas Thuresson R 9:22 1 1 2 1 2 6 -4 5 12 -7
 Wade Belak R 8:38 1 0 0 0 2 5 -3 5 10 -5
 Nick Spaling C 8:28 0 0 0 0 1 4 -3 4 10 -6
 Dan Hamhuis D 21:44 1 2 0 2 7 12 -5 17 28 -11
 Kevin Klein D 20:58 0 0 0 3 6 11 -5 15 27 -12
 Ryan Suter D 20:32 2 0 0 1 15 19 -4 21 31 -10
 Shea Weber D 18:17 2 2 1 3 14 19 -5 20 30 -10
 Francis Bouillon D 15:06 0 0 1 1 5 6 -1 12 16 -4
 Cody Franson D 14:07 1 1 0 5 5 7 -2 11 16 -5
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