Oilers blow a sour note

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- The Edmonton Oilers started their four-game road trip by blowing a three-goal lead in Minnesota.

They ended it last night not being able to overcome one in Nashville.

Alexander Radulov scored a pair of goals for the Nashville Predators in a 5-2 win over the Oilers.

It was a tough end to a disappointing trip that saw the Oilers lose three of the four games -- one in overtime.

"We just lacked any composure whatsoever early on, on the back end," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"We were turning pucks over and hanging on to pucks and not moving the puck and losing the puck at the point of contact, flopping around, diving on the ice.

"We just never did get into the game at the start and it cost us."

A delay at the airport the night before in St. Louis had the Oilers arrive at their Nashville hotel close to 2 a.m. yesterday.

And even though their morning skate was optional, the Oilers looked like a tired bunch in the first period.

They were out-shot 20-8 in the opening frame as the Predators took a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.

"Back-to-backs are extremely hard in this league," said Oilers captain Ethan Moreau. "It's a skating game now and you can't slow the game down when you play back-to-back.

"We also don't have an important guy that plays a lot of minutes in Shelly (Sheldon Souray). But just the way the game is now, everybody has to do it and you have to try to find a way to get points in a back-to-back."

J.P. Dumont, Jerred Smithson and Radulov scored for the Predators in the opening frame.

Zack Stortini responded for the Oilers with the first goal of the season to double his career total.

"They started a lot better than us," Moreau said. "They always do in this building ... they come out hard.

"We have a lot of young guys on the back end that were probably not ready for their speed and we weren't able to cope with it early."

In the second period the Oilers conceded another power-play goal as Marek Zidlicky slid a centring pass through Matthieu Garon to Jason Arnott in front of the net for the easy tap-in.

Kyle Brodziak had a golden opportunity to cut into the lead as he was awarded a penalty shot after getting hooked by Zidlicky on a short-handed breakaway.

Brodziak, however, was stopped by Predators goaltender Dan Ellis, who was able to get a pad on a backhand shot.

Had Brodziak been able to score, it may have given the Oilers some hope -- especially after Moreau scored a power-play goal in the third period on a set up from Marty Reasoner.

However, the Predators sealed the victory and killed off any hopes of a comeback when Arnott stole the puck off an unsuspecting Joni Pitkanen inside the Oilers zone and slid it over to Radulov, who wired his second of the game over Garon's shoulder.

"Seemingly we can't survive these stretches, whether it's protecting the lead or at the start of a game," MacTavish said.

"If you don't have your legs, you want to get back and let the puck do the work for you. We got caught with the puck and it was one mistake after another.

"You can survive one or two of those, but not seven or eight of those in the first 10 minutes of the hockey game."

The loss dropped the Oilers to 17-21-4 on the season and further way from a playoff spot.

Tomorrow they'll play host to the New York Rangers in the first of a five-game homestand at Rexall Place.


Videos

Photos