After being shut out for the first time this season, the Predators look to continue their recent dominance of the Oilers in the finale of a three-game homestand Monday night.
That defeat was partially due to the continued lack of support for the Predators’ first line. Steve Sullivan(notes), Jason Arnott(notes) and Patric Hornqvist(notes) have combined for five goals and five assists, but no other player has found the back of the net for Nashville.
Predators coach Barry Trotz would like his team to emulate what it saw from an aggressive Sabres club.
“When you’ve got a chance, you’ve to do it with speed,” Trotz said. “When they got a little breathing room they were going 100 miles an hour. We bring it down a gear when we bring the puck down the ice.”
Nashville, though, has had little trouble against Edmonton (2-1-1) in recent years, winning seven straight at home and scoring 48 goals while going 11-1-0 overall against the Oilers since the start of the 2006-07 season. The Predators haven’t lost to the Oilers at Sommet Center since a 5-1 defeat Oct. 29, 2005.
Nashville went 3-1-0 against Edmonton last season, including a 6-5 overtime victory March 3.
Though Rinne struggled in that contest, the Predators are confident with him in net and feel comfortable with the goaltender position overall.
“Both goaltenders are playing extremely well. I can’t make a bad choice,” Trotz said. “It’s not really a dilemma, it’s an asset - something you’ve got in your back pocket.”
Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin(notes) appears to be settling in after a tough start. He made 33 saves to help the Oilers beat Montreal 3-2 on Saturday night. The Russian star, who signed with Edmonton after leaving Chicago as a free agent during the offseason, gave up 11 goals in his previous three contests.
“I’m feeling more comfortable,” Khabibulin said. “I’m feeling a little better. There are still a few things I need to clear up. The last couple of days I’m seeing the puck better.”
Injuries on the blueline haven’t helped Khabibulin’s cause.
Defenseman Steve Staios(notes) returned to the Oilers’ lineup Saturday after missing time due to a concussion. He replaced Sheldon Souray(notes), who is recovering from a mild concussion and isn’t expected to make the trip to Nashville.
Offensively, meanwhile, Edmonton continues to get steady performances, scoring at least three goals in each of its four games. Mike Comrie(notes), Jean-Francois Jacques(notes) and Patrick O’Sullivan(notes) scored against the Canadiens.
Comrie has two goals and two assists. He’s one of 10 different Oilers with at least one goal.