Predators beat Oilers 4-3 as Grebeshkov stars in Nashville debut

After being traded from Edmonton to Nashville the day before, Denis Grebeshkov made a critical impact in his Predators debut with a goal and an assist to help his new team to a 4-3 victory at the newly-christened Bridgestone Arena.

Keep an eye on the video widget on the right sidebar, where the game highlights will be available about 30 minutes after game time, and follow after the jump for the recap, and advanced even-strength statistics...

Things looked sloppy at times during the first game back after the long two-week break, particularly on the opening goal of the game, a 3-on-1 that resulted from Shea Weber chasing a puck carrier and abandoning his post, without a winger backing him up.

Once they got a few shifts under their belt, however, the Predators settled into a more typical style of play. Colin Wilson and Cal O'Reilly seemed to develop good pressure on a line with Jordin Tootoo, and Wilson scored midway through the first to things up, thanks to an assist by Grebeshkov. Just two minutes later, Grebeshkov made David Poile look even smarter by firing home his first goal as a Nashville Predator, putting the Preds up 2-1.

For a new guy, Grebeshkov looked comfortable working with his defense partner (Francis Bouillon) and moved the puck crisply on several occasions. He even took a penalty shortly after his goal, so at least he got to check out his new penalty box.

One of the critical factors in Nashville's stretch drive will be the performance of special teams, and tonight, things looked positive on that front. The Preds killed off two Oilers power plays without yielding a single shot, and they scored on one of their two chances on a long-range bomb by Shea Weber.

That said, the Oilers didn't roll over in this game. Twice Nashville took a one-goal lead, only to have Edmonton tie it back up. Only one goal (the Oilers' third) would be considered a softie given up by Pekka Rinne, who had a modestly successful night turning aside 22 of 25 Edmonton shots for the win.

The winning goal was a bit of poetic justice for Jason Arnott. Reunited with Steve Sullivan and J.P. Dumont, the captain appeared to have more zip on his shot than in recent weeks, and put several good ones on net, in addition to a ringer off the goalpost in the second period. Early in the third, as he was carrying the puck behind the goal line, he backhanded it out into the crease, where it deflected off Edmonton's Jason Strudwick into the net.

The Preds play their next home game Thursday, March 4 against the Los Angeles Kings. Be sure to check out our deal for cheap tickets to this, or any Nashville Predators home game.

Looking at the advanced stats, the first thing one should notice is the incredibly even distribution of ice time; all of the defensemen played between 17:19 and 17:56 at evens, and all the forwards were between 11:44 and 14:14. I'd have to go back through the different game sheets, but I can't recall another game all season where Barry Trotz just rolled the lines like that.

The Legwand line went up against Dustin Penner for most of the night, and didn't give up a single shot on goal during their shifts. Ryan Suter and Shea Weber tipped the ice heavily in Nashville's favor, as is typical.

 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
 Jordin Tootoo R 14:14 2 1 2 0 9 10 -1 14 15 -1
 Patric Hornqvist R 14:11 4 1 2 0 8 9 -1 17 11 6
 Marcel Goc C 14:08 1 2 1 0 7 8 -1 16 10 6
 Martin Erat R 13:48 0 1 1 0 7 6 1 16 8 8
 Colin Wilson C 13:27 3 1 0 1 8 10 -2 13 15 -2
 David Legwand C 13:24 0 0 0 0 3 0 3 8 4 4
 Jerred Smithson R 13:23 0 1 1 1 4 0 4 9 4 5
 Jason Arnott C 12:59 5 0 2 2 8 7 1 14 13 1
 Cal O'Reilly C 12:58 1 1 0 0 7 10 -3 12 15 -3
 Joel Ward R 12:51 1 0 1 1 3 0 3 8 4 4
 J P Dumont R 11:59 0 0 1 1 5 5 0 11 11 0
 Steve Sullivan L 11:44 1 0 0 0 6 4 2 12 10 2
 Dan Hamhuis D 17:56 1 2 0 1 7 8 -1 14 17 -3
 Ryan Suter D 17:52 3 0 0 0 13 8 5 25 10 15
 Francis Bouillon D 17:47 0 1 0 1 6 7 -1 12 13 -1
 Kevin Klein D 17:39 0 0 2 1 5 9 -4 12 17 -5
 Denis Grebeshkov D 17:31 1 0 0 2 6 6 0 12 13 -1
 Shea Weber D 17:19 2 1 0 0 13 8 5 25 10 15
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