SUN Hockey Pool

'A' is not enough

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- Better wasn't good enough.

The Edmonton Oilers won't be leaving Music City this morning shame-faced like they did in Chicago Sunday, but they won't be leaving with anything for the win column, either.

The Oilers found their game against the Nashville Predators last night, but an "A" for effort is all they'll take home after Paul Kariya set up the winning goal by David Legwand with 2:45 to play in a 3-2 Nashville victory.

Some consolation, but no points.

"The consolation is you're not as disappointed as you are when you don't play well," coach Craig MacTavish said.

"The consolation is you're not as devastated. Well, I can't say that. That's a tough one to swallow. We played what I thought was a real good hockey game from the outset. It's disappointing, but it's encouraging we bounced back and played better."

The Oilers put a horrid effort in a 4-1 loss in the Windy City behind them after MacTavish called out his team at practice Monday as they pumped a season-high 40 shots at Nashville stopper Chris Mason.

But, after coming back from a 2-0 deficit, the Oilers saw it go for nothing as Kariya spun off a check by Daniel Tjarnqvist on the end boards and set up Legwand, recovered from a hand injury that kept him out of the three previous games.

'DESERVED BETTER'

"He's the kind of guy you have to have on the right side, otherwise it's going to end up in the net," Tjarnqvist said. "We worked really hard and I thought we deserved better than this."

Outsized but not overmatched by Tjarnqvist and Jason Smith, Kariya notched his 38th point in 44 career games against Edmonton by shaking loose and finding Legwand.

"Tjarnqvist played terrific all night," MacTavish offered. "He and Gator got their sticks in and they were leery of taking a penalty, so you had to soften off a bit on the battle. When that happened, Kariya makes a nice little spin play."

In a reversal of form from Sunday's blowout, the Oilers stayed out of the penalty box - except for a Marty Reasoner hooking penalty - and on the attack in the opening 20 minutes. They pumped 14 shots at Mason, but got no sniff off the stingy stopper from Red Deer.

"We did a lot of things better tonight," said Shawn Horcoff, who combined with Joffrey Lupul and Petr Sykora for 12 shots. "If we keep playing like that, we're going to be fine. We collectively played a lot better."

Solid start or not, when Vern Fiddler's backhand deflected off the stick of Ladislav Smid past Dwayne Roloson 48 seconds into the second period and Alexander Radulov banged a rebound into the net on a Nashville power play at 3:32, the Oilers looked to be on the ropes. Not quite.

A CHANCE

After Fernando Pisani notched just his second goal in the last 11 games and Marc-Andre Bergeron tucked in a rebound off a Raffi Torres slapshot 28 seconds later, this one was up for grabs.

"We gave ourselves a chance to win," said Torres, who punished Dan Hamhuis with a check and scrapped Shea Weber when he stepped in to do something about it. "We came pretty hard. it kind of puts us back to where we were a couple games ago."

AROUND THE RINK: Radulov's 2-0 goal snapped a string of 24 straight successful penalty kills by the Oilers ... the Oilers had gone 10 straight without reaching 25 shots before last night.


Videos

Photos