The Nashville Predators lost their third game of the year to the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 5-3. This is Nashville’s third loss at home, and first loss to Edmonton since March 18, 2014.
Nashville Key Stats
Filip Forsberg (3)
Ryan Johansen (3), P.K. Subban (2), Viktor Arvidsson
Edmonton Key Stats
Drake Caggiula (2), Leon Draisaitl (2), Connor McDavid
Darnell Nurse, Tobias Rieder (2), Milan Lucic, Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom
|11:41||EDM||Drake Caggiula (1) Darnell Nurse and Tobias Rieder|
|04:14||EDM||PP — Leon Draisaitl (5) Milan Lucic and Connor McDavid|
|18:46||NSH||PP — Filip Forsberg (8) Ryan Johansen and P.K. Subban|
|18:53||EDM||Connor McDavid (7) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins|
|04:19||EDM||Leon Draisaitl (6) Tobias Rieder and Oscar Klefbom|
|04:43||NSH||Filip Forsberg (9) Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson|
|15:54||NSH||PP — Filip Forsberg (10) Ryan Johansen and P.K. Subban|
|18:14||EDM||EN — Drake Caggiula (2)|
The Oilers came out fast, and pressured Juuse Saros early. Lazy and lethargic play from the Nashville defense in front of Saros led to Caggiula’s first goal of the day. Arvidsson nearly scored his 8th of the year on a breakaway chance, but somehow the puck rolled off of Koskinen’s stick. Kevin Fiala almost scored as well- the pipe gaved Koskinen some help, and the Oilers led 1-0 at the end of 20 minutes.
Edmonton remained relentless in the second period. Draisaitl tapped one over Subban’s stick and Saros’ shoulder on an Oilers power play, and the lead expanded to two. Later in the period, Forsberg netted a power play goal- very similar to the one he scored against New Jersey. McDavid stormed right back on the face-off, drove the puck to the net, and seven seconds after Forsberg scored, McDavid put Edmonton up by two again.
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The third period was Nashville’s brightest spot. After Draisaitl buried his second of the day, Nashville finally woke up. Forsberg snapped one past Koskinen after Arvidsson and Johansen pressed the puck into the Edmonton zone. As the clock ran down in the third period, Forsberg slung one past Koskinen for his third of the day. Captain Roman Josi very nearly tied up the game, but the post was Koskinen’s ally. A little under three minutes later, Caggiula found the empty net, and Nashville was handed their third loss of the year.
Slow starts and lazy defensive play won’t win hockey games. Nashville had dominated the first period to start the season, but as of late, they have been outplayed in the first period. They allowed over 10 shots in the first period, and 35 shots total to Edmonton.
The last time Nashville allowed less than 30 shots on goal was against Calgary on October 19th. The defense is not doing enough in front of Saros- he’s seeing too many shots. Overall, Nashville needs to spend time at the other end of the ice, and put more pressure on the other goaltender.
One line cannot win a game. Forsberg, Arvidsson, and Johansen have been absolute dynamite; however, the other three lines aren’t producing enough. The three lines combine for 12 goals, while the JOFA line alone has 19.
Kyle Turris and Craig Smith are the exceptions- Smith has 4 goals and Turris has registered 6 assists. Their +/- ratings aren’t spectacular, but Turris wins more than half of his face-offs and Smith has been an underappreciated spark-plug for the second line.
Nashville is not playing bad- but they could be playing better. As far as where they stand in the Central Division and the league, no Nashville fan can complain. However, with the Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets, and Chicago Blackhawks closely following them, there is little room for error.
We’ll ignore the fact that Nashville was penalized six times. Special teams is an obvious concern for the Predators, even in spite of the fact that two of Forsberg’s goals were on the power play.
Had Fiala’s, Josi’s, and Arvidsson’s pucks snuck into the net, that’s a different game and certainly a different feeling. A little puck luck always helps.
Also, Austin Watson will be eligible in seven games. The Toothless Wonder will bolster the penalty kill’s chances of success significantly.
-Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators and the Central Division for Fullpresscoverage.com. You can follow Jack on Twitter at @jack_woods15, and Full Press Predators at @FPC_Predators.