by Lisa McRitchie on 03/21/12 at 05:00 AM ET
Oilers beat Predators 6-3
It doesn’t matter that the Nashville Predators are playoff bound, and that the Oilers are only playing out the end of the season, the Oilers seem to have the Predators’ number lately, every visit to Nashville makes the Preds’ fans cringe. For the Oilers, this may be a meaningless win, but it’s still a win and something that fans have been anxious to cheer for. During fall for Hall and arson for Larsson, it seemed wrong to cheer for wins; there was a high profile draft pick on the line. Even though the team is still cheering for draft picks, three first overall picks in a row seems wrong and a higher pick will certainly do.
This trip to Nashville seemed to have been an easier game than it could have been. The Predators started off well enough, but soon lost their steam and played less than inspired hockey.
A hat trick and an assist for Ales Hemsky was enough to spur the Oilers on to victory, and even mask the fact that Jordan Eberle seemed somewhat invisible for perhaps the second game of the season out of his 69 games played this season. Perhaps he is saving his goals for Columbus, or for a game when the team is in desperate need of a goal.
The game’s opening scoring came from an unlikely source; ex-Predator Darcy Hordichuk. The goal 12:50 into the first period was also his first of the season.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was also left off of the scoresheet despite chances and his best efforts. There is still time for Nugent-Hopkins to catch up or even surpass his competition for the Calder Trophy; it is still a tight race when you look at the points and goals alone.
Sam Gagner had a near repeat of an Ales Hemsky goal that was called off against the Colorado Avalanche a couple of weeks ago. In that game, Gagner was judged to have interfered with the goaltender and so Hemsky’s goal did not count. This game, Gagner appeared to have crashed into Pekka Rinne as Hemsky scored but in this instance with the same referee, Paul Devorski, the goal counted because Gagner was pushed in.
Rinne made an early exit from the game in the second period but the Oilers had scored 3 goals on 6 shots, it was a mercy pull. While Rinne was the last line of defence, there were still five men on skates in front of him.
By the end of 60 minutes, the Oilers had only made 20 shots on net, but Dubnyk faced 44. The Oilers have often been out shot, but this seemed a little more extreme. While scoring was not as much of a concern this game, the Oilers have to find a way to get more shots on net. There are still games where scoring is a concern, and more goals are still better than less goals, that’s basic hockey math.
David Legwand scored two of the Predators’ goals and Patric Hornqvist scored the team’s power play goal. On the other side, Ryan Jones scored a power play goal of his own, but the slowing of Oilers’ power play goals have dropped the team to third from first place power play. Now, it is Nashville that holds the tops in the league power play.
The Predators nearly had a fourth goal, but in a call that enraged the Predators’ fans in Bridgestone Arena, the Oilers were given a pass because it was ruled that Patrik Hornqvist had impeded Dubnyk. That Gagner’s goal counted and Hornqvist’s goal didn’t will be something that these sports fans won’t forget.
The team will now travel to Florida to play back to back games against the Pathers and the Lightning before heading to Columbus on their way home to Edmonton.
From the Other Side
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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