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Oilers end skid with win over Predators

The SportsXchange

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Stuck in one of the worst droughts in one of the worst seasons in their history, the Edmonton Oilers enjoyed a rare uplifting night, upsetting the Nashville Predators 5-1 Sunday at Rexall Place.

It was Edmonton's first win in 16 days and just their fifth win since Dec. 10.

"We've had a tough year, obviously," said defenseman Justin Schultz, after the Oilers snapped their six-game losing skid. "I think we played a pretty good full 60. The third period wasn't our best, but any time you get a win, especially with the losing streak that we were on, it feels really good."

The Predators (23-22-8) were a model of consistency lately, suffering just four regulation losses in their previous 15 starts (7-4-4). The Oilers (15-32-6) were the exact opposite -- four wins in their last 21 games.

But after three one-goal losses in a row, goalie Ben Scrivens had a feeling the Oilers were ready to break out.

"I thought we should have kept our heads up after the Vancouver game," said Scrivens, who stopped 34 of 35 shots in his first win as an Oiler. "Against Winnipeg, I thought we played pretty well even though the results didn't go our way. Even the last game against Phoenix, probably not the first period we wanted but I thought we had two solid periods after that.

"It's going to be a matter of just working on the little things in our game but from where I am, and granted, I'm new around here, but I see a lot of positives that we can build off of

"It's a learning curve and hopefully we took a good step forward today."

As far as Nashville coach Barry Trotz is concerned, his side took a step back.

"I'm quite disappointed," he said. "We had a game in Calgary the other day and let a point slip away and tonight we had it 1-1 late in the first and I thought we would be in good shape.

"We gave up a poor goal in terms of our structure, it was bad coverage by us. And when they got the third goal, it took a lot of steam out of our bench."

After lamenting their slow starts, the Oilers decided to get it going early Sunday, with defenseman Justin Schultz scoring at 2:59 after some solid down-low work from the line of left winger Luke Gazdic, right winger Jesse Joensuu and center Ryan Smyth.

Nashville squared it on center David Legwand's goal at 15:25, but the Oilers finished the first period as they started it, with right winger Jordan Eberle scoring on a goal-mouth tap-in, courtesy of a nice pass from left winger Taylor Hall at 19:48.

It marked just the 13th time in 54 games that the Oilers held a lead at the first intermission.

The lull that many fans expect from the Oilers didn't come in the second period. In fact, Edmonton poured it on some more, making it 3-1 on a power-play goal from Smyth and 4-1 when right winger Nail Yakupov scored his first since Jan. 7.

Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added to the lead with a power-play goal late in the third period to make it 5-1.

Fourteen of Edmonton's 18 skaters were on the ice for at least one Oilers goal.

"It's great. You have that depth," said Eberle. "With the best teams in the league, the depth is always there."

The Predators had two goals disallowed on goaltender interference calls, both on left winger Taylor Beck.

"I've never seen anything like that," he said. "On the first one, I was just taking the puck hard to the net and my momentum kind of ran the goalie a little bit. I think the puck would have gone into the net regardless, but the ref called it.

"On the second one, I was getting hacked and whacked and ended up falling on the goalie and again it was disallowed. Those things happen, I guess. Hopefully next time it is called the other way."

Nashville goalie Carter Hutton stopped 22 of the 27 shots he faced.

NOTES: Oilers D Andrew Ference sat out the game with a head injury after colliding with one of the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday. ... Edmonton RW Ales Hemsky remains out of the lineup with a bone bruise in his ankle after being hit with a shot from teammate Luke Gazdic, who won the hardest shot event at the Oilers' skills competition Saturday. ... Predators rookie D Seth Jones began the day ranked third among NHL rookies in minutes played at 20:56 per game. He played 18:09 Sunday. ... Former Oilers G Devan Dubnyk didn't get the start in Nashville's first game against Edmonton since the trade. He is struggling with the Predators, allowing nine goals in two games.
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