The Nashville Predators played two periods of tremendous hockey but could only manage a 1-1 tie with the Edmonton Oilers as they started the final period. The Oilers then turned in an all world performance in the third, keeping the Preds on their heels and in their zone for the better part of regulation play.
After a fast paced overtime period, Linus Omark was the hero of the evening nailing his shot in the fourth round of the skills competition to give the last place Oilers the win and an extra point that they will never need.
The Predators looked like whipped puppies as they walked by the television cameras exiting the ice. It is difficult to comprehend the difference in play between the first two periods and the third but it has become a troubling trend as the Preds are sinking like a rock in the Western Conference standings.
Blake Geoffrion’s first NHL goal was the only Preds tally. GM David Poile said yesterday that they “were going with the youngsters” but I assume he expected the more experienced players to participate too.
Jim Vandermeer had the only regulation goal for the Oilers.
Martin Gerber took his season record to 3-0 stopping all but one of the 35 Nashville shots. Pekka Rinne stopped 25 of 26 shots in regulation before yielding two of four in the shootout.
The first period got off to a blazing start with both teams racing up and down the ice. Ales Hemsky came close to a goal at 3:30 on a breakaway but caught the post instead.
Geoffrion got his first NHL goal in his third game at 12:45 off of a great pass from Ryan Suter from behind the net to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.
The first goal celebration was interrupted with Geoffrion still on the ice when the Oilers answered quickly, 41 seconds later. Vandermeer blasted a slapper through traffic that was congregated in front of the net and past Rinne to tie the game at one.
Nashville out shot the Oilers 18-7 in the opening period after leading 8-1 in the first six minutes.
The second period was more of the same with neither team scoring a goal before play was halted with 1:11 left due to damaged glass.
After the break, the period officially ended with the Preds out shooting the Oilers, 12-6. Jerred Smithson was a perfect 10-0 in the face off circle at the end of the period.
In spite of the altered start to the final period the Preds continued their third period no-show trend as Edmonton pushed the pace and kept the puck in the Predator zone for the better part of the final stanza. The Oilers looked like champions with nothing to lose out shooting the Preds, 11-4. In overtime, the Predators perked up a bit but were out shot, 2-1. There were no stoppages for the full five minutes.
In the shootout, Jordan Eberle nailed the opening attempt which was matched by Marty Erat. After misses by Taylor Hall, Mike Fisher, Gilbert Brule, and David Legwand, Omark, slipped the puck past Rinne for the eventual game winner. Cody Franson went last and was unable to convert.
Nick Spaling was hit in the face and left the ice at 10:18 in the first and did not return until 7:15 in the second wearing a full cage to protect his bloodied face.
The Predators will have to regroup quickly as they travel to Vancouver to play the league leading Canucks Thursday night at the Rogers Rogers Arena.