Predators blank OilersBy Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sat, Mar 9, 2013 12:00 AM EST
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Maybe it was getting three days off after a brutal road trip. Perhaps it was coming to practice Wednesday and seeing two new faces competing for playing time on the National Hockey League's lowest-scoring team. Or it could have been the arrival of a tired opponent running on fumes toward the end of an extremely long journey of its own. Whatever the case, the Nashville Predators treated its 24th straight sellout crowd to a rare offensive outburst Friday night. Colin Wilson scored two goals and drew two assists as the Predators snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-0 shutout of the Edmonton Oilers at Bridgestone Arena. Patric Hornqvist, David Legwand, Rich Clune and newcomer Zach Boychuk also potted goals for the Predators (10-9-5). Shea Weber picked up three assists, while Mike Fisher added two as Nashville scored more than three goals for just the fifth time in 24 matches and tied its season high for goals, set in a Feb. 5 win at St. Louis. "It feels great to score a bunch, that's for sure," Boychuk said. "They'd been talking a lot about our struggles offensively. We wanted to keep the tempo going and put a lot of pucks on net. It was a good effort tonight by the guys." The Predators hadn't played since a 5-1 loss Monday night in Los Angeles, completing a 0-3 trip through California on which they were outscored 12-3 and outshot 83-56. In the process, they fell from 4th to 11th in the hyper-competitive Western Conference. In response, general manager David Poile picked up Boychuk and Bobby Butler off the waiver wire to beef up an attack which entered this one with only 47 goals in 23 games. Coach Barry Trotz played them both, scratching third and fourth-line mainstays in Matt Halischuk and Nick Spaling, and shook up his forward lines. For this night, the changes created a steady assault on net. Butler drew three penalties, including one which led to the first goal, and Boychuk pumped a team-high four shots on net. "I'm always excited to play with new players," Wilson said. "They were both trying to get into the offense. It's always good to have more dynamic players on offense." Given an unusual amount of support, Pekka Rinne turned back 24 shots for his fourth shutout of the season. He stoned Ryan Jones on two shorthanded breakaways, including one in the game's first five minutes that would have put the Oilers (8-11-5) in front. Instead, Rinne stood tall and the Predators hit the board at 6:07 when Hornqvist stuffed the rebound of Wilson's shot past Devan Dubnyk. It was just the second power play goal in the last seven games for Nashville. Legwand made it 2-0 at 18:51 when his shot from just behind the red line bounced about 20 feet in front of Dubnyk and through the goalie's legs. It was Legwand's fourth goal of the year and led to Dubnyk's benching at the second period's start. Backup Yann Danis fared no better, yielding Clune's second goal of the season at 51 seconds of the second period and Boychuk's first goal, a deflection off Weber's slapper at 18:22. It was Boychuk's first game with the Predators after being picked up from Pittsburgh. "You play like that," Trotz said about Boychuk and Butler's performance, "there's no reason why you can't follow it up with the next game. First impressions are pretty good, but can you follow it up tomorrow?" Wilson tacked on goals at 4:43 and 16:39 of the third period to top off Nashville's third win in 10 matches. Edmonton fell to 1-4-2 on a season-long nine-game road trip and has lost five in a row, being outscored 21-7. "There's nothing positive you can take from a game like that," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "There's really no excuses at all, in any direction. We just really have to dig deep." Notes: Edmonton's Ales Hemsky, who leads it in goals with eight, sat out with a right foot injury suffered in the first period of Thursday night's loss at the Detroit Red Wings. Hemsky is considered day-to-day. ... For the second straight year, Nashville is leading the NHL in fewest penalty minutes per game with 10.0. That's still a bit higher than last season, when it took just 8.4 penalty minutes a night. ... Wilson has been involved in 19 of the Predators' last 40 goals ... The Oilers failed to draw a penalty for the second straight game, snapping Nashville's five-game streak of allowing a power play goal. ... Hornqvist left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and won't play Saturday night against visiting Minnesota.
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