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Nashville Predators 3, Edmonton Oilers 6: Special teams again doom Preds

The Nashville Predators returned home on a three-game losing streak to face the Edmonton Oilers, who’ve had their number in recent years. With Alexandre Carrier and Jeremy Lauzon still out to injury, Kevin Gravel and Roland McKeown got thrown in at the deep end.

Cody Glass got the scoring started for Nashville, with a goal 1:15 in, but the Oilers came back with a vengeance. They applied fairly consistent pressure and racked up the scoring chances as the period continued.

Unfortunately, as a result, the Predators iced the puck with their third defensive pairing (and Connor McDavid) on the ice, which went about as well for them as might be expected: McDavid started a play that let Zach Hyman tie it 1-1. Hyman scored another a few minutes later, thwarting a phenomenal attempt at a save by Dante Fabbro to give the Oilers the 2-1 lead.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was called for hooking when Matt Duchene fell over, and the Preds got a chance on the power play. They were unable to convert, probably for the best—we don’t really need another Duchene-inspired NHL rule change.

Tanner Jeannot’s roughing penalty shortly after the teams returned to even strength, with just over a minute left in the period, was probably the easiest call these refs would make all year as a result of the earlier miscall. The shorthanded Predators made some questionable usage choices, putting the third D-pair out at the end to help kill the penalty, and with 4.9 seconds left on the period Leon Draisatl (who else) scored to make it 3-1 Edmonton.

Early in the second, a great passing play allowed Filip Forsberg to set Ryan Johansen up for a nice goal, cutting the Preds’ deficit to 3-2. However, less than a minute later, Draisaitl was back again, making it 4-2 Oilers.

Nashville got another chance to even things up on the power play when McKeown drew an interference penalty. Despite a flurry of chances at the tail end of the skater advantage, including a great shot by Jordan Gross off an even better pass from Matt Duchene, they weren’t able to tie it then. However, right after the teams returned to even strength, Dante Fabbro scored his first of the season to cut the deficit again.

Darnell Nurse was called for holding, and then a little more than halfway through the Preds’ power play Derek Ryan also took a holding penalty. The Predators got 43 seconds of 5-on-3 time, but despite a flurry of chances, Jack Campbell made every save.

In a real déjà vu moment, with under two minutes left in the period, a Predators skater—this time McKeown—took a penalty, and the Edmonton Oilers scored on the power play. The goal this time was Connor McDavid’s, but Draisaitl still contributed the primary assist. The teams headed to second intermission with the Oilers’ two-goal lead secure.

Early in the third, Brad Malone high-sticked Fabbro and the Preds got another chance on the power play. This, too, was thwarted. The Bridgestone Arena crowd began to murmur discontentedly.

Roman Josi helped save another goal from Hyman, and Kevin Lankinen made a great save on McDavid, preserving the 5-3 deficit as the period wound down. With Lankinen pulled for the extra attacker, the Preds were unable to score, and Hyman did complete his hat trick (with Draisaitl adding yet another assist) into the empty net.