The home-sweet-home routine the Edmonton Oilers had fashioned in their first half-dozen games at Rexall Place turned sour in a hurry last against the Nashville Predators last night.
With six straight wins and an opportunity to set a franchise record for most consecutive victories at home to start a season, the Oilers tossed out the welcome mat to a Nashville outfit that happily turned it into a 5-3 decision and their sixth straight road win.
MUST BE BETTER
Gracious hosts, the Oilers.
"We know we have to be better," said Joffrey Lupul. "They played last night. They're at the end of a road trip. It should be us who jumps out to the early advantage and it was the opposite."
Coming off an impressive 4-0 win over Washington Saturday, the Oilers responded to three days rest with a flat, to use the term loosely, in falling to 6-1-0 at home.
Cohesive, determined and robust against Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals, the Oilers stood around gawking for the first 20 minutes, fell behind 2-0 on goals by Vern Fiddler and Shea Weber and spent the night playing catch-up.
They never did.
"We had a terrible period, a terrible start," said coach Craig MacTavish. "We were sloppy right from the outset. Right from the first play, we weren't making many plays in our own zone."
Despite getting into town late after a 3-2 win in Vancouver Tuesday, it was the Predators who had all the jump and better chances in the opening 20 minutes, a period in which the Oilers were lucky beyond words to escape down just two goals.
When Fiddler made it 1-0 just 1:05 in on Nashville's first shot and Weber sifted a slapshot past Dwayne Roloson on a power play at 15:53, the Oilers were in a hole.
"Just not sharp enough to win the hockey game. That's pretty much the bottom line," said Jarret Stoll.
"We weren't ready to start the game. Our heads weren't into it right at the start. It was a pretty sloppy first period and a pretty sloppy game overall. It was pretty evident we didn't deserve to win that game."
Not much changed early in the second period, but when Ales Hemsky took a deft touch pass from Petr Sykora, broke in alone and beat Chris Mason top shelf on just the Oilers second shot of the period, it was a lot closer on the scoreboard than it had been on the ice.
Down 4-2 after a goal by Scottie Upshall, the Oil added drama with Roloson on the bench when Marc-Andre Bergeron cut the lead to one again with 1:04 to go.
But David Legwand hit an empty net to seal the deal.
"It could just be a product of us doing so well at home," Lupul said.
IT'LL BE EASY
"We're coming out here and thinking everything is going to be easy because some nights, it has been.
"That wasn't the case. We ran into a really good team that was ready to play. By the time we woke up, it wasn't too late, but it makes it tough when you're digging from behind all night."
Around the rink ...
With the 2-1 goal, Hemsky has a five-game points streak on the go ... Alexei Mikhnov was scratched for the fourth straight game and the 11th time in 12 games.