Preview: Predators at Oilers
The Nashville Predators' calling card long has been a stingy defense that often suffocates the opposition, and the team appears to have embraced that style of play over the last two contests. The Predators bid for their first three-game winning streak since late October when they complete a three-game road trip against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
Nashville rebounded after getting shellacked in new coach John Hynes' debut by recording a 5-2 victory at Chicago on Thursday and a 1-0 win in Winnipeg three days later. "It was a really good win for our team," Hynes said of the victory over the Jets. "It was a kind of a grind-out game and one where we had to be comfortable playing with a lead in a tight game." Edmonton ignited its high-octane offense by scoring 23 goals during a sizzling 4-1-0 stretch before tempers flared in the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta on Saturday. Zack Kassian took offense to a hit from Matthew Tkachuk and repeatedly punched the Calgary forward, resulting in a double-minor for roughing and a 10-misconduct penalty on Sunday as well as a two-game suspension from the NHL the following day.
TIME: 9 p.m. ET. TV: FS Tennessee, Sportsnet West
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (21-16-7): Kyle Turris scored in the first period on Sunday to end a 16-game goal drought and Juuse Saros made the slim advantage stand up with 28 saves for his first shutout of the season. Matt Duchene, who saw his four-game point streak (two goals, four assists) come to a halt on Sunday, dismissed the notion that Nashville was in dire need of wholesale changes following Hynes' arrival. "It's not like we did a full overhaul of everything," the 28-year-old Duchene told the Tennessean. "We have some obvious strengths to our game and maybe tinkered with some stuff we weren't. He's done a great job so far. Our team’s done a great job buying in and being smart and learning things quickly."
ABOUT THE OILERS (24-18-5): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tallied twice to boost his point total to 10 (five goals, five assists) in his last six contests while Leon Draisaitl extended his point streak to six games with an assist on Sunday. The 5-foot-8, 158-pound Kailer Yamamoto has benefited from being paired with the duo since being called up from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League, notching two assists versus the Flames to give him five points (two goals, three assists) in six games with the club. Captain Connor McDavid has a dozen points (five goals, seven assists) in his past nine contests.
1. McDavid and Draisaitl are the first teammates to reach the 70-point plateau in 47 or fewer games since Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr accomplished the feat in 1996-97.
2. Nashville D Roman Josi, who leads the team in assists (32) and points (46), saw his 12-game point streak halted in his last contest.
3. The Oilers are just 2-6-2 against Central Division representatives this season.
PREDICTION: Oilers 4, Predators 2