Oilers-Predators Preview

The Associated Press

The last-place Edmonton Oilers put a few wins together before coming up short again their last time out.

Bouncing back could prove difficult on Thanksgiving against the host Nashville Predators, who are starting to pick up steam.

While the Oilers (7-16-2) followed a 1-9-1 stretch with a season-best three straight victories, their woes resumed Monday in a 5-1 loss to Chicago. Devan Dubnyk allowed the game's first four goals before getting pulled in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov 5:49 into the second period.

"They pretty much beat us in every aspect," said forward David Perron, who was held without a point after posting four goals and two assists during the winning streak. "I felt like the energy was pretty low for having three days off. It's a disappointing game for us wanting to make a statement. We have to find an answer in here."

Bryzgalov could prove to be just that. The veteran goalie, who was signed Nov. 8 and called up from Oklahoma City nine days later, stopped 12 of 13 shots in his Oilers debut. Edmonton ranks 29th in the NHL with a 3.52 goals-against average.

"That's a veteran guy," coach Dallas Eakins told the team's official website. "He comes in with a little swagger… He was good."

Bryzgalov will get a chance to build on that showing Thursday in his first start. He is 6-3-1 with a 2.27 GAA and one shutout in his last 10 matchups against Nashville.

"I think he's comfortable with his situation here. He knows how the game goes," Eakins said. "He understands that whoever's hot and whoever's winning is going to be in the net. If it's the other guy, he's good with it. All that Bryz wants is our team to win. He'll get his chance to run with it now."

Bryzgalov could be in for a stiff test against the Predators (12-10-2), who have outscored opponents 21-8 while winning five of six. Two nights after beating Phoenix 4-2, Nashville stayed hot with a 4-0 win at Columbus on Wednesday.

Rookie Marek Mazanec made 19 saves for his second shutout in five games while Matt Cullen and Nick Spaling each had a goal and an assist. Ryan Ellis and Gabriel Bourque both added two helpers.

"It was a pretty easy night for him," coach Barry Trotz said of Mazanec, who is 5-1-0 with a 1.34 GAA in his last six games. "It was sort of a team win. You need to make a couple of saves when needed and he did."

The Predators have killed off 16 consecutive chances on the penalty kill dating to Nov. 15.

"Our defensive game was really good, and that's where the offensive part of our game evolves from," said Trotz, whose team has allowed an NHL-low seven power-play goals since Oct. 12.

David Legwand tallied his fifth goal and team-leading 20th point against the Blue Jackets. Nashville, which is 10-2-1 when he records at least one point, also improved to 11-1-2 when scoring first and 9-0-1 when leading after the opening period.

The Predators outscored Edmonton 9-2 in taking both home matchups last season and are 11-4-0 in the series at home dating to November 2005.

Captain Shea Weber has two goals and five assists in his last six meetings with Edmonton.

Oilers forward Ales Hemsky has notched nine and 12, respectively, during a 21-game stretch versus Nashville.

What to Read Next