Oilers-Predators Preview

The Associated Press

Being at home wasn't much of an advantage for the Nashville Predators in last season's Western Conference semifinals, but they'd still prefer to open this postseason at Bridgestone Arena.

A better effort than in the Edmonton Oilers' last visit could help the Predators in their push for a top-four seed.

Nashville returns home Tuesday night when the Oilers try to win the season series between these clubs for the first time in six years.

After knocking out Anaheim in six games for the franchise's first playoff series win, the Predators fell in six to Vancouver - losing all three at home - in the 2011 conference semifinals.

While it's unlikely the Predators (42-22-8) will make up the eight-point deficit on Central Division-leading St. Louis with just 10 games remaining, they are neck and neck with Detroit for the fourth seed and home-ice advantage in the opening round.

Nashville will try to keep its momentum going after ending a 2-1-1 trip with Sunday's 3-1 victory over Anaheim.

"We had to climb in the standings and try to catch Detroit and St. Louis," said Patric Hornqvist, who opened the club's three-goal third period with his 23rd of the season. "You never know what can happen, and we want to win every game."

The Predators have nearly done that at home over the last three-plus months, outscoring their opponents 78-54 while going 19-3-2.

Nashville, though, lost 6-2 in the Oilers' last visit on Nov. 22. The Predators hadn't yielded more goals at Bridgestone Arena since a 7-2 loss to Atlanta on Jan. 17, 2009.

Pekka Rinne, who allowed three first-period goals in the November meeting before being chased, figures to be in net for what would be his career-high 65th game after getting a rare night off Sunday when Anders Lindback made 30 saves.

Lindback had lost five consecutive starts since turning aside 17 shots in a 2-1 victory in Edmonton on Nov. 28.

Rinne, tied for the NHL lead with 39 wins, has started each of the Predators' last 25 home games.

Edmonton (28-36-8), meanwhile, opens a four-game trip with a 4-1-1 mark in its last six on the road.

The Oilers, though, let a point slip away Sunday in a 3-2 shootout loss to Phoenix. Edmonton held a 2-0 second-period lead on goals by Jordan Eberle and Ales Hemsky.

"It's very frustrating. It seems to be the story of our season," said Eberle, who has a team-high three goals as Edmonton has won two of three versus Nashville this season. "A couple of mistakes and it costs us the game.''

The Oilers still have a chance to record their first four-game point streak since a 4-0-1 run from Jan. 23-Feb. 4, though second-year forward Taylor Hall is questionable after missing Sunday's game with a concussion.

If Devan Dubnyk makes a fifth straight start, he'll go for a second consecutive win in Nashville after making 30 saves on Nov. 22.

Nikolai Khabibulin turned aside 40 of Nashville's 43 shots in the two games the teams have split in Edmonton.

Predators leading scorer Martin Erat, named the NHL's third star of the week Monday after posting seven points in four games, is scoreless against the Oilers this season.

Edmonton last won the season series versus Nashville in 2005-06 when it took three of four.