NASHVILLE - The Nashville Predators know better than to take the Edmonton Oilers lightly.
The last time the two teams squared off in Music City, the Oilers skated away with a convincing 6-2 victory.
Heading into Tuesday’s contest, the Predators are looking to sing a different tune.
“We’re tied with Detroit (in the standings) and our focus has to be on the Edmonton Oilers and getting two points,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. “They kicked our ass here last time at home and we have to respond tonight. Our focus has to be on the Edmonton Oilers.”
The Oilers have had the Predators' number lately, despite the disparity between the teams in the NHL standings.
Nashville currently sit fourth in the Western Conference standings, securely in a playoff spot, while the Oilers are near the bottom, well out of the post-season race.
Yet the Oilers have won two of the previous three meetings between the teams this season and four of the last seven dating back to last year.
“I think the Oilers against us have played very well,” said Trotz. “The first game, it was early in the season and I think we only had 14 shots on net.
“The next time we went in there, we won, we played more of a Predator-type game where we were hard on the puck, we stayed on the puck, didn’t give them much room to breath and didn’t allow their forwards to wheel and deal like we know we can. Then back here, we played way too loosey, goosey, we didn’t play well enough defensively and they loaded up and beat us 6-2.”
Taylor Hall won’t be in the lineup for the Oilers, still out after suffering a concussion Friday against the Calgary Flames.
The good news for the Oilers, however, is that Hall skated Tuesday morning and does not appear to be experiencing any post-concussion type symptoms.
Devan Dubnyk will once again draw the start in goal for the Oilers, while Ben Eager returns after sitting out the previous three games due to back spasms.
This is the first of a four-game road trip for the Oilers, who hope to continue to continue their good form against the Predators, prior to heading to Tampa where they'll face the Lightning Thursday.
“For whatever reason, we seem to get to (goaltender) Pekka Rinne,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “I think they respect us enough that they know they have to play the game hard and they do. But for whatever reason, we seem light on our feet and have more of an attack-mode to our game.
“We’ve had some good goaltending, we’ve had to come up with some big nights in our goal. But it’s one of those things that’s hard to explain, but we have something special going here.”
The Predators a poised to make a good playoff run this season and their lineup will be bolstered by the return of Alexander Radulov, who is on his way to Nashville.
Radulov won’t be in the lineup Tuesday night against the Oilers, but could be on the ice practicing with the Predators as early as Wednesday.
Regardless, Trotz is not interested in focusing on Radulov’s return until after the Predators encounter Tuesday, knowing how dangerous the Oilers can be.
“They’re talented, they're young, they can make plays and if you’re not heavy on them, with weight and pressure and numbers, they can light you up,” Trotz said. “They’ve done it before. They did it to the Chicago Blackhawks. They did it to us. They’ve done it to a few teams. They’re not an easy team for anybody to play and this year they’ve been particularly hard to play against for us.”