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Those Oilers Just Don't Go Away Quietly

Tonight's game against Edmonton started off looking like a ho-hum affair where the red-hot, playoff-bound Predators would sweep aside the foundering, injury-riddled Oilers. At least that's the way the first few pages of the script read, as Nashville jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead, including a sweet effort by Alexander Radulov that set the crowd rocking. A-Rad picked a puck off the sideboard and peeled into the slot as the Edmonton defenders scrambled to cover everyone except the shooter, giving the super soph plenty of time to pick his spot and score his 24th goal of the season.

A few minutes later, however, the Oilers realized they weren't the Washington Generals after all, and fought back gamely. Fernando Pisani (a member of the Fab Forecheckers, but, alas, not on the active roster tonight) scored late in the first to bring Edmonton within 2-1, and even though Jordin Tootoo scored five minutes into the second to widen the gap to 3-1, Edmonton kept on coming. Three unanswered goals by the Oilers left the Preds down 4-3 and the home crowd in a panic, but fortunately for them, that only lasted for 23 seconds, as Jason Arnott replied with a tip-in goal that tied the game at 4 heading into the 3rd...

I was worried that with a tie game the two sides would play it safe and head for OT, but the Oilers kept firing shots (14 in the 3rd for 36 on the game), and Dan Ellis turned in a fine performance down the stretch, not allowing Edmonton back on the board. In the end, it was another clutch goal by J.P. Dumont that put the Predators up for good 5-4, and sending ravenous fans out into the streets to take their ticket stubs to Taco Bell, now that the "Score Five, Win a Taco" promotion has been restored. Dumont ended up with the game-winning goal, two assists, and a +4 rating, not bad work in his first game back after missing two due to illness. That top line of Dumont, Arnott and Radulov combined for 3 goals and 4 assists, looking more like a world-class line every night.

On the back end, Ville Koistinen returned to the ice with Greg Zanon a healthy scratch, but didn't make much impact for better or worse on the game. Nashville only had two minutes of power play time, and that's where Koistinen has the greatest chance to shine. As the boys over at Battle of Alberta showed recently, despite Nashville having more power play opportunities than they allow to their opponents (+19 as of that piece), they had only scored 1 more goal than their opponents on special teams all season. The Predators are doing a fine job of drawing calls and not taking penalties themselves, but if the power play fails to cash in, those are huge opportunities that are lost.

The Vancouver Canucks and their world-beating goaltender Roberto Luongo roll into town on Thursday, and you can bet that goals will come few and far between compared to tonight's second-period shootout...