The Nashville Predators were the better team on the ice at Rexall Place on Sunday night, but they gave Edmonton every opportunity to steal the game with sloppy play and odd-man rushes going against goalie Pekka Rinne. It took Cody Franson’s first-ever NHL shootout goal to give the Preds a 3-2 edge in a game that was not pretty to watch.
The Predators got goals from Alexander Sulzer and Joel Ward, while the Oilers got their goals from Andrew Cogliano and Taylor Hall.
Rinne was the difference maker for the Preds for the entire game and in the shootout as he stopped 22 of 24 Edmonton shots and all three in the skills competition. Devan Dubnyk played well for the Oilers, stopping 26 of 28 Predators shots, but gave up the only goal in the shootout to take the loss.
The Predators ended the night with sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference with 60 points. The Preds now trail Vancouver by seven points and Central Division leader Detroit by four.
The Predators clearly were the better team on the ice from the opening drop of the puck but failed to show it at times.
The Preds got on the board first when Sulzer came out of the penalty box and skated toward the goal where he took a perfect feed from Sergei Kostitsyn for his first career NHL goal at 11:53.
The Preds outplayed the Oilers for the rest of the period that was highlighted by a dangerous hit at 13:57 by Zack Stortini on Patric Hornqvist who was fighting for the puck on the boards. For the period, the shots were tied 5-5 as there was more skating than shooting in the opening stanza.
The second period produced no scoring but several good scoring chances by the young Oilers. Rinne should have been the star of the period for making up for several Predator turnovers by stopping the puck on the rush.
As the third period started at 2:03, the fire that the Preds had been playing with came back to burn them when Cogliano took a pass from Liam Reddox and put it past Rinne from point blank range to tie the game 1-1. Franson made a horrible move to leave Cogliano wide open at the net.
Play stopped momentarily at 9:55 when J.P. Dumont was hit in the head by Tom Gilbert with a high stick but no penalty was called.
Replacement of a piece of glass after a holding call on Ladislav Smid at 12:10 gave the Predators a chance to regroup before the resulting power play. The Predators were able to convert at 14:05 when Ward redirected a shot from Sulzer past Dubnyk to put the Preds up, 2-1.
The Predators couldn’t stand success as they allowed Hall to break free through the neutral zone and beat Rinne to tie the game 2-2 with 3:47 remaining in regulation.
The Predators went on the power play with :46 seconds left when Hornqvist drew a hooking penalty. It carried over into the overtime and the Preds were unable to convert. As the man advantage expired, Ryan Suter was called for tripping which led to several Oiler chances. One play was sent for review when Rinne lost his stick and a shot by Shawn Horcoff was stopped by the stick laying up against the post.
Nashville out shot the Oilers 14-6 in the third period while Edmonton led 4-2 in shots in overtime.
In the shootout, Franson was the only shooter to find the net and seal the Predator victory. Marcel Goc missed the first shot for the Preds as Linus Omark, Sam Gagner, and Taylor Hall missed for the Oilers.
The Predators left immediately after the game for the short plane ride to Calgary where they will play the Flames on Monday at 8:30 p.m.