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Nashville Predators 3, Edmonton Oilers 0: Saros Perfect, Three Score in Edmonton

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The Preds might own this city.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators returned to Edmonton, where they’ve had some success over the past few years, to face a hot Oilers team which has finally also figured out how to score goals that Connor McDavid didn’t cause.

The Predators entered without Pekka Rinne, who was placed on the injured reserve this morning, leaving Juuse Saros to start. Fan favorite Frédérick Gaudreau also drew into the lineup, in his case in place of Miikka Salomäki. One of these changes went better than the other, as Gaudreau was completely invisible throughout the game.

Kyle Turris drew an early power play, but the Predators did not look good with the extra skater. Their best sequence of the power play might have been after Kris Russell left the penalty box and the Oilers returned to full strength, as the Preds kept the pressure on in the offensive zone for a while. A few minutes later, they got another chance on the power play when Milan Lucic did Milan Lucic things.

Sadly, the most interesting thing that happened on the Preds’ second power play was a minor scuffle in front of the Oilers’ net, and almost immediately after that Zac Rinaldo hooked Connor McDavid, unleashing the Oilers’ lethal power play. The Predators were aggressive on the kill, managed a shorthanded chance, and successfully killed the penalty.

The Turris line pressed hard to end the period, but the score was still 0-0 at the first intermission.

Saros started the second period with another excellent save. The Preds followed that up with some great shifts in the offensive zone, but no joy. Not too long after, P.K. Subban was called for interference and the Oilers’ power play got another chance to work. The Predators killed off the penalty, but Nick Bonino was hurt blocking a shot not long after it ran down and headed down the tunnel, though he returned before too long.

A great offensive sequence by McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins drew another penalty, and Ryan Johansen—who had been good on the penalty kill earlier this game—went to the box. Subban scored the game’s first goal while the Preds were shorthanded. It was his first career shorthanded goal, as well as the Predators’ first shorthanded goal of the season, and it seemed to stun the crowd. Viktor Arvidsson scored again just after the penalty expired, with an assist from Bonino.

The Preds were firing on all cylinders when they drew a penalty and went back on the power play themselves. The best chance on that power play came when Saros mishandled the puck outside his net and Zack Kassian just missed his shot at the open net. The Oilers got some nice pressure during the last few minutes of the period, but Saros and the Preds held on tight and the team made it out of the period unscathed.

Early in the third period, Dan Hamhuis lost an edge while racing to get an icing call, got tangled up with the Oilers skater, and got crushed between his opponent and the boards. Hamhuis stayed down for a few moments and went to the locker room with the Preds’ head trainer once he made it back up, leaving the Predators finishing a back-to-back with only five defenders.

With a little more than ten minutes to go in the third, things started getting physical. Oilers defender Evan Bouchard checked Bonino into the boards and Calle Järnkrok came in to object. Ultimately no penalties were assessed, though Bouchard and Järnkrok could probably both have been called.

Ryan Johansen took his second penalty of the night, hooking McDavid as he broke into the zone. The Oilers swarmed the crease during the power play, and at one point Saros and the puck were completely hidden by a pile of bodies while play was still live, but Saros stayed calm and rock-solid, and the Predators managed to kill off this penalty as well.

The Predators made it out of their own end and had a flurry in the offensive zone, thwarted by the incredibly bad ice—in addition to all the passes going astray, Ryan Ellis and Filip Forsberg both fell down on the same play, though Ellis had some help from multiple Oilers players. The offensive flurry was interrupted when Turris drew his second penalty of the night, and the Preds barely managed to break up another shorthanded chance and again failed to get set up in the offensive zone.

After a great penalty kill, the Oilers pulled Cam Talbot and the final siege began. Roman Josi scored the empty-netter and the team held on defensively to get Saros the shutout.

So how do you go about getting the keys to a city, again?

Random Observations:

  • #FreedFreddy
  • If falling over is the way to get the puck back from McDavid, we might need to get Scott Hartnell back in here.
  • The power play has looked better.
  • Jordin Tootoo gets a nice ovation from the crowd. He’ll be back in Nashville on (when else?) February 2nd, when the Preds play the Dallas Stars.
  • Ugh, Lucic.
  • Arvidsson is small, but I wouldn’t have said he was “two scuffles in the crease for the price of one” small.
  • The ice looks awful.
  • FS-TN reminding us all that Saros is basically an infant in goalie years.
  • If the next two periods are anything like the first, even I’m going to have a hard time staying awake, and I’m on Pacific time.
  • Saros!
  • Is Kyle Turris ever going to learn to take a faceoff? Asking for several thousand friends.
  • This game is brought to you by the letter I and the penalty Interference!
  • Subban and Arvidsson are rewarding us for still being awake.
  • That Subban shorty gets nicer every time I watch it.
  • Oilers starting the third period with “We Will Rock You”
  • The ice is really bad.
  • I’m still here for Mattias Ekholm unleashing his inner rover, y’all.
  • Turris line wants more goals.
  • Saros is playing the puck a little more carelessly than I’m completely comfortable with.
  • It’s like someone told Johansen that the Preds could only score goals when he took penalties, or something. Someone please correct him.
  • Forsberg just fell on Saros. Hey, Preds: DON’T SQUISH YOUR GOALIE.
  • Hamhuis is back, for those of you who were keeping track of whether the NHL actually made players sit down for long enough to do accurate concussion testing (still no).
  • SAROS
  • Josi found the empty net! Josi found the empty net!

OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game:

  1. Juuse Saros: Goodness gracious.
  2. P.K. Subban: That shorthanded goal was a thing of beauty and a joy forever, and he was quite good defensively as well.
  3. Calle Järnkrok: It won’t show up on the boxscore, but he did some very respectable work defensively against McDavid.

Tweets of the Night: