New Oilers G Bryzgalov blanks Predators

Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ilya Bryzgalov didn't take long to fit in with his new teammates.
Then again, posting a shutout while starting for the first time with a new team will earn a goalie acceptance in a hurry.
Turning away 33 shots for his 31st career shutout, Bryzgalov led the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and left winger Taylor Hall scored for Edmonton in the second period. Both goals came while the teams were playing 4-on-4 after Predators center Paul Gaustad and Oilers left winger David Perron were sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle added an empty-net goal at 19:03 of the third period.
Bryzgalov made the lead stick with some help from his teammates, who played one of their better all-around games of the season. Edmonton (8-16-2) allowed an NHL-high 89 goals entering the night but remained responsible defensively for 60 minutes.
"You'd have to ask those guys what they think," Bryzgalov said as veteran left winger Ryan Smyth walked by and rubbed him on the head, "but I feel very comfortable with my teammates already. So far, so good. I hope it continues."
Considered one of the top goalies in the league after posting 21 shutouts in a three-season span with the Phoenix Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers, Bryzgalov posted a 2.79 goals-against average last season for Philadelphia in 40 games. However, he bore a good chunk of the blame for the Flyers missing the playoffs. The Flyers bought out the last seven seasons of Bryzgalov's nine-year, $51 million contract on June 25.
The 33-year-old signed with Edmonton on Nov. 8 and was recalled from AHL Oklahoma City nine days later, making his first appearance for the Oilers on Monday night in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. He entered that game in relief of starter Devan Dubnyk, stopping 12 of 13 shots.
First-year Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins thought Bryzgalov benefited from Monday's action.
"I thought he picked up right where he left off," Eakins said. "He was solid, he looked big in the net. Checkmarks right across the page for him."
Meanwhile, there were nothing but zeros on the Nashville score sheet for an NHL-high sixth time. It was just the second loss in seven games for the Predators (13-11-2). Nashville was coming off a 4-0 win over the Blue Jackets on Wednesday night at Columbus.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz felt his team didn't create enough traffic in front of Bryzgalov, who faced few difficult shots.
"Obviously, we didn't play hard enough in those hard areas," Trotz said. "We were in the corners all the time. We had a couple of good looks, but we didn't hit the net. You know, we blasted over the net or what have you."
Predators goalie Marek Mazanec made 25 saves, but he gave up two goals in a 51-second span of the second period.
Nugent-Hopkins beat him on a tip-in of defenseman Jeff Petry's pass at 5:32 for his sixth goal of the season. Hall followed by taking a feed from center Sam Gagner and slipping a backhand past Mazanec for his seventh marker.
"From shift one, we seemed to be in sync with our forwards and defense," Hall said. "We were really in tune with our routes and our systems. When we did have a breakdown, we had a goalie back there that played great."
NOTES: Nashville D Shea Weber appeared to get hit in the face with a shot late in the second period and didn't return. ... Predators RW Patric Hornqvist and C Filip Forsberg were scratched again due to upper-body injuries. Hornqvist missed his third game in a row, while Forsberg was out for a seventh game in a row. ... Edmonton recalled D Denis Grebeshkov, 30, from AHL Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Grebeshkov, who played in three games for the Oilers last month, dressed and played Thursday on the second defense pairing with Anton Belov. ... The Predators played on Thanksgiving for the fourth time in franchise history, all at home. They won the first three in 2005, 2006 and 2007. ... Edmonton started its fifth set of back-to-back games Thursday night. The Oilers will play the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Friday evening. With the win at Nashville, Edmonton improved to 2-6-1 in back-to-back games.

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