The Oilers controlled much of the play through the second period and the first half of the third, only to have Nashville make the most of their limited chances and score a goal with just under 8 minutes to go to take a 2-1 lead. Seconds before the goal Ales Hemsky had a chance to make it 2-1 for the Oilers as he badly beat Ryan Suter then goalie Dan Ellis only to have his backhand shot skip by the post. The Predators put things away 2:20 later as Denis Grebeshkov gave the puck away at the Oiler blueline to Radek Bonk and he scored on the resulting breakaway. Vern Fiddler added an empty netter to close things off.
The game started with a scary incident early in the game as Jordin Tootoo hit Mathieu Roy with a late hit deep in the Oiler zone that left the Oiler defenseman motionless on the ice for several minutes. In what was originally thought to be a head or neck injury, Roy skated off the ice and to the dressing room with a shoulder injury. That now leaves the Oilers with 4 injured defensemen and for the second game in a row had to play with 5 defensemen. Unfortunately tonight it was for most of the game and the error by Grebeshkov late in the game may have been a result of having to play extra minutes.
Again the Oiler powerplay had chances but were unable to score and are now a dismal and league worst 3/54. It is becoming almost comedic how they can continue to be so bad. Even a bad powerplay gets lucky once in a while. In prior years the fans were on special teams coach Craig Simpson for the lack of production but with Craig MacTavish and Charlie Huddy looking after the PP unit it is obvious something is missing. Time for Kevin Lowe to find a finisher? I think so.
With the injury bug also biting the team hard it seems like the last 3 months of last year are just continuing this year. They played 11 defensemen last year and with the injury to Roy, the call will be made to Springfield and will result in the 10th defenseman being dressed by the team already this year.
This game seemed to change when the Oilers had all the pressure in the third period and Hemsky failed to pull the trigger on his great play. The Oilers must have all thought he was going to score and they seemed to stand around as the Predators came back down the ice and scored. Mathieu Garon also played good when called upon tonight and was not at fault for any of the 3 goals scored on him.
The Oilers are now going on the road for 4 games, all against divisional opponents. It is also the first of 8 straight games against divisional opponents. Their season could ride on the next 3 weeks. Go at least .500 and they are still in the thick of things but only win 2 of those 8 and it is almost time to plan for next year...again.