Nashville Predators 2, Edmonton Oilers 5: Just OK Isn’t OK Enough Against Draisaitl and McDavid

The Predators drop the second game in a tough back-to-back in Alberta.

After escaping Calgary with two points in Tuesday’s overtime win, the Nashville Predators landed in Edmonton to face off tonight against a offensively hot Oilers team.

The Oilers have the top two points leaders in the league so far this season with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl along with a supporting offensive cast (including former Predator Kyle Turris on their fourth line). The Oilers entered the contest tonight with a 7-1 record, with their single loss against the Philadelphia Flyers. Goaltender Mikko Koskinen was 5-1 when in net.

The Nashville Predators faced off against Edmonton riding a hard fought four game winning streak. Tuesday’s battle in Calgary cost the Predators forward Filip Forsberg (week to week) and defenseman Mark Borowiecki (day to day) to upper body injuries. Rocco Grimaldi and Ben Harpur returned to the lineup for the injured Preds. Connor Ingram took his place in net, giving usual starter Juuse Saros a well-deserved break.

Period One

First great chance for the Predators in the game came on a 2 on 1 shot by Matt Duchene, but Koskinen denied #95 the goal. Connor Ingram had to be alert and aware as the Oilers set up offensively for brief stretches.

Things took a turn for the worse when Granlund’s stick got caught up in an Oiler skates, and the Predators faced the brutal Edmonton power play. Ingram dialed in and stopped several dangerous chances. Despite strong defensive plays by Alexander Carrier and Matt Benning, Leon Draisaitl accepted a cross ice pass and sent the puck past a hard working Ingram at 6:43.

Immediately after the potentially deflating power play goal by the Oilers, Matt Duchene skated the puck into the offensive zone, looked off Koskinen, and put the Predators on the board at 6:53.

Ingram showed off his net minding skills and post to post movement on a great shot attempt by Zach Hyman. Dante Fabbro got a close up of the neutral zone ice compliments of Leon Draisaitl, but the contact didn’t draw a whistle.

The period wound down with a well matched back and forth between the teams end ended with ten shots on goal for the Oilers an eight for the Predators.

Period Two

An early extended offensive push for the Oilers resulted in a Yamamoto goal off a bouncing puck near the net at 1:27.

The Predators returned the offensive pressure - even ringing the post - but couldn’t score the immediate equalizer. Another opportunity presented itself when Darnell Nurse was called for holding, and the Predators earned two minutes with a man advantage. The first unit couldn’t establish possession in the O-zone, and the second only logged one real set up on the power play before the bonus expired.

After more evenly matched play, Rocco Grimaldi drew a tripping penalty to put the Preds back on the power play. The first big save came thanks to Connor Ingram on a shorthanded attempt. The best shot attempts were from the Oilers throughout the whole two minutes.

The Oilers were energized from their kill momentum, and then Colton Sissons handed them a great opportunity when he was called for interference at 10:53. The Predators, down a goal already, faced a ferocious power play. Ingram fielded several short side shots, Trenin and Carrier blocked shots, and the Predators executed a key kill.

The Predators were run a little ragged in the second half of the period, but continued to hold strong and keep the deficit to one goal after forty minutes.

Period Three

The Predators started the period with a good offensive flurry but couldn’t find the back of the net. The game returned to its back and forth pace until the dynamic duo of McDavid/Draisaitl struck again. McDavid assisted on a slot goal by Draisaitl and increased the Oiler lead to two goals at 3:41.

The Oilers immediately turned around and attacked on another two on one, but Mattias Ekholm interrupted the impeding threat. Unfortunately the Preds couldn’t corral the puck in the defensive zone and Devin Shore sent the puck past Ingram at 4:59. The Oilers took a 4-1 lead early in the third period.

The Predators chased the lead through the halfway point of period three, but the Oilers continued their offensive pressure with odd man rushes. The Preds were able to prevent more scoring momentum. Warren Foegele clipped Connor Ingram in the goal crease and was sent to the sin bin to rethink his recent life choices.

The Predators faced the deadly Oiler’s penalty kill and got set up in the O-zone briefly before Connor Ingram boldly defended the net from a two on one. The Preds had a brief 5 on 3 as an unrepentant Oiler was called for a hold, but the two man advantage was mostly spent on the wrong end of the ice.

With time running down on the hold power play Matt Duchene passed the puck to Ryan Johansen who sent it sailing past Koskinen to bring the Predators within two at 15:59.

The Preds put all their eggs in the proverbial empty net basket with 3:35 remaining in the game to see if they could close the gap. Unfortunately that bet didn’t pay off as Jesse Puljujarvi added another goal at 16:50 to make the game 5-2.

Three Things:

  1. The tough game against Calgary the previous night seemed to affect the Predators play tonight. Back to back nights are never easy, but playing two very hot teams in physical match ups within 24 hours was a big ask. Two points from these two games isn’t ideal, but it also isn’t unforgivable.
  2. Despite the final score, Connor Ingram shone in his second time in professional competitive athletics.  Facing the two league point leaders and a team with only one loss could have intimidated the young goalie, but Ingram had some highlight reel saves and didn’t allow any gimme goals past him. Despite the loss, Ingram can be proud of that performance in net.
  3. There are opportunities for improvement for the Predators. The power play, puck management, cleaning up unnecessary penalties - all of these areas can use some fine tuning. Although the final score may not reflect it, the Predators hung in there well for much of the game against a very, very good team. A win is always better than a moral victory, but with some attention to detail, the Predators could be back in the win column.

The Predators will be back in action on Friday night against Vancouver.