Oilers primed for Predators
ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
|Oilers defenceman Corey Potter is pursued by Predators Patric Hornqvist (left) and Cal O'Reilly at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Oct. 17, 2011. (CODIE McLACHLAN/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - For 40 minutes Monday night the most exciting thing that happened at Rexall Place was an oil derrick malfunction that had Oilers players scrambling off the bench when it looked like the pre-game prop might come crashing down from overhead.
It didn’t, but figuring that one good scare deserves another, the Oilers made the roof fall in on the Nashville Predators.
Trailing 1-0 in the third period and approaching the point in a game where previous Oilers teams used to get frustrated and blow it, the 2011-12 edition showed again why they might be a different animal, rising up to score three straight goals and post a 3-1 comeback victory.
Taylor Hall and Ryan Smyth scored two minutes apart and Ryan Jones added an empty-netter (after much debate over who was actually going to put it in the net) to improve their record to 2-1-1.
“It’s a relieving feeling to score at home,” said Smyth, who had a goal and an assist on the night the Oilers handed out 10,000 bobbleheads in his likeness. “But I thought Horc led the charge. He won the draw on the power play, made a great little pass back to Nuge on the first goal. On my goal he made an excellent pass. He’s a true leader, a leader by example.”
A game after the kids ran wild against Vancouver, the old guard showed they still plenty of game left. In addition to Smyth’s two points, Horcoff had three assists, took 20 faceoffs, played 21:32 and helped out on a penalty killing unit that held Nashville scoreless in five chances.
“When Smytty got that huge goal right after we scored on the power play it really lifted our team,” said Hall. “I think from there we knew we weren’t going to lose unless we took a lot of penalties, which we didn’t.”
After the arena crew got the big decorative oil derrick under control,
Edmonton controlled the first two periods, outshooting Nashville 19-9, but trailed 1-0 on the scoreboard
“We thought we deserved a better fate than being down 1-0,” said Hall. “We held them to 12 shots in the whole game, that’s an impressive feat in itself, and after that we carried confidence knowing that we were playing the game we wanted to play.”
Past Oilers team might have panicked, or quit, but this one kept coming.
“I had that exact thought during the game,” said Hall. “It’s just a little bit of a different atmosphere here. Last year we might have folded up after the first period if we didn’t get a goal, or they scored first.
“I think this is the sign of a good team, an up and coming team.”
After a great cross-ice feed from Nugent-Hopkins, Hall ripped one into the open net to tie it 1-1 at 5:29. Two minutes later, with the shots 22-9, Smyth took a great pass from Horcoff and put the Oilers ahead 2-1 on a sweet deke.
The empty-net goal that sealed the victory came with 38 seconds left when Smyth, who had the shot at the open net, dished it to Ryan Jones, who sent it to Horcoff, who sent it back to Jones who finally slid it into the empty net.
“When Jonesy passed it to me it was such an unselfish play I had to send it right back to him,” laughed Horcoff. “It was a really good win for us.”