On a night when everyone at Rexall Place received a commemorative Ryan Smyth bobble-head, the honoree ended up with the game-winning goal in a 3-1 Edmonton comeback victory over the Nashville Predators.
Smyth’s third period goal led the comeback as the Preds were clearly out-skated and out-shot 25-12 against an Oilers team that was winning all of the battles at both ends of the ice.
In the post-game TV interview, Kevin Klein referred to the effort as “embarrassing” and gave all the credit to Pekka Rinne for keeping it close. Rinne stopped 22 of 24 shots that he faced while Nikolai Khabibulin was rarely challenged, stopping eleven of twelve Predator shots.
Taylor Hall scored the Oiler’s first goal and ex-Pred Ryan Jones got the empty-netter. Sergei Kostitsyn got the only goal for the Predators.
The Predators will practice Tuesday morning at Rexall Place and then fly to Vancouver in the afternoon. The next game is Thursday at 9 p.m. CDT against the Canucks.
Comments from the Couch…
Scratches for the Predators were Mattias Ekholm and Niclas Bergfors.
The Oilers had the first power play, 3:30 into the opening period when Shea Weber shoved Jordan Eberle into the boards at the Preds’ defensive half wall. The Oilers returned the favor with a Ladislav Smid roughing penalty to Matt Halischuk 25 seconds after the Weber penalty expired. The Preds out-shot the Oil 3-1 in the pair of man-advantages.
Jerred Smithson missed a shift during the first period after getting hit hard with the puck.
Nick Spaling was called for hooking Smid at 11:59. Twenty-seven seconds later, Hall hooked Weber. The best scoring chance in the pair of penalties was when a puck ended up behind Rinne with Smyth trying to put it in but Kevin Klein cleared the puck.
The disturbing recent trend of anemic Predator shot counts continued in the first period with the Preds being out-shot 12-4 with all four Predator shots coming on the power play. The Oilers led the shots 6-5 during the middle period. The final period was the most embarrassing with the Preds being out-shot 7-3, while giving up three goals.
Smithson and Barry Trotz were both critical of the team’s speed and effort in the opening period during the TV spots during the first intermission.
Rinne got his first assist of the year on the Preds’ first goal when he cleared the puck to Kostitsyn who skated through center ice and wristed the puck past Khabibulin for his first goal of the year.
Jon Blum got a bruised nose when Linus Omark inadvertently got him in the face with his stick at 9:08 in the second period.
Hall’s power play goal came on a slick play where he was alone on Rinne’s left and got a quick cross-ice pass from Nugent-Hopkins. The power play was a result of a Ryan Suter holding Smyth penalty.
The Smyth game-winner came off of a perfect pass from Shawn Horcoff when both Kevin Klein and Blum were tracking Horcoff and left Smyth wide open on the right side of an over-committed Rinne who moved to the right too quickly, leaving a wide open net.
Andy Sutton gave the Preds a chance at 13:47 when he gifted the Preds with a power play when he tripped Colin Wilson with 6:13 remaining. The Preds never got off a shot.
Ex-Pred Ryan Jones got the empty-netter with 19 seconds left to seal the deal when Blum tried to make a quick pass in the Oilers’ zone that was intercepted and gave Edmonton a three on one break with Smyth and Horcoff waiting in the wings if Jones had decided to pass.
The Predators were zero for five on the power play while giving up one goal on five man-advantage opportunities for the Oilers.