The Oilers have struggled this season, but when you look at their performance against the Predators last year, one knew they could come into this game and give the Predators fits.
They did just that all night long.
The Predators had a difficult time handling the forecheck of the Oilers, which disrupted their breakouts and slowed them coming through the neutral zone. Once in the offensive zone, the Predators had a hard time establishing their effective offense that served them well in the game last night in Columbus.
When the Predators did create some quality scoring chances, Ilya Bryzgalov, getting his first start as an Oiler netminder, was very good, shutting down the Predators scoring chances.
The Oilers tallied two goals during 4 on 4 play with Paul Gaustad and David Perron both in the box for roughing. Jeff Petry walked in from the point and fired a nice pass that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins re-directed past Marek Mazanec at 5:32 of the second period.
Just 51 seconds later, Taylor Hall got lose at the top of the crease and lifted a backhand past Mazanec to make it 2-0.
Jordan Eberle tallied an empty net goal at 19:03 for the final margin of victory for the Oilers.
- A scary moment for the Predators and Shea Weber. A puck was deflected off a stick into the face of Weber. He dropped immediately to the ice before skating off to the locker room. Weber was bloodied and did not return for the third period. It is unknown if he suffered any damage to his eye. Weber is one of the Predators that does not wear a visor.
- The Predators managed to get 33 shots on Bryzgalov and some of them were quality chances, but Bryz was up tot the task. You had to know that he would be jacked up for his first NHL game in a year and that the Predators were going to have to be sharp to beat him. Tonight, they were not sharp enough.
- The Predators faced an aggressive and disruptive forecheck all night and had a difficult time solving the Oilers pressure. That pressure created numerous turnovers and opportunities for the Oilers. Maybe because it was the second game of a back to back, but the Predators opened the game looking sluggish, which did not help in handling the speed and aggressiveness of the Oilers.
- Seth Jones struggled tonight and his game has taken a step back recently. This is probably to be expected for a rookie and for the volume of games and minutes that he has played. His passes and puck handling have not been sharp, and he has been the perpetrator of several turnovers. Before Weber's injury, Jones was dropped down to the third D pairing with Victor Bartley.
- Colin Wilson has struggled of late and cannot get his offensive game going. Tonight, it appeared that he missed a wide open net with a shot. The Predators need Wilson to get back to consistently being a contributor on offense.
- The Predators were shut out for the 6th time this season. Ouch!
The Predators needed this game and this two points. This team cannot give away points to teams that are below them in the standings.
Time to put this one behind them and get back on the horse Saturday against the Flyers.
My three stars:
1. Ilya Bryzgalov
2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
3. Taylor Hall