Late Offside Challenge Leads Preds into Bye Week with Victory

Two goals in the first period and a dramatic offside challenge late was all the Nashville Predators needed to defeat the Edmonton Oilers for an 11th consecutive time, topping their opponent by a 2-1 final on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena.

The win is Nashville’s second-straight overall and extends its streak against the Oilers, with its last defeat to Edmonton coming in 2014.

“I thought we came out and had a good start,” Preds forward Craig Smith said. “That’s what we we’re looking for. We were just trying to get some points on the board and kudos to our video group getting that one at the end – that was really niceā€¦ I thought we managed the game well and got some points.”

A Nashville power play in the opening frame saw Smith collect a rebound and pot his 15th of the season for a 1-0 advantage, and then Viktor Arvidsson tapped in a loose puck at the side of the net and past Cam Talbot to give the Preds a two-goal lead after 20 minutes.

Edmonton Captain Connor McDavid cut the lead in half just 45 seconds into the second period, but Pekka Rinne and the Predators shut the Oilers down across the final 39 minutes, and a perfectly executed offside challenge (more on that below) sealed points 55 and 56 for the Preds.

Nashville now heads into the bye week with points in three straight, and for the most part, with a confidence in the way they’re playing in the new year.

“I think we have taken ownership in how we show up and how we need to play in the process to win games down the road,” Smith said. “I think it was definitely going our way, but now I think we are starting to really commit to doing the right things in our system. If you do that long enough, only good things can come.”

A Surgeon’s Eyes:

Their office is buried deep below the crowd at Bridgestone Arena, their faces hardly ever seen.

But the call that Preds Video Coach Lawrence Feloney and Video Coordinator Andrew Meloche made to challenge Edmonton’s second goal for offside, a goal scored with just over five minutes to play in regulation that tied the game at 2-2, got them some well-deserved recognition.

Win the challenge and the Preds hold a one-goal advantage once more. Lose, and not only is the game tied, but Nashville takes a delay of game penalty and gives Edmonton a chance to take the lead.

No pressure.

“He must have a surgeon’s eyes,” Rinne said of Feloney. “He does such a good job. I feel like now is a good time to talk about Lawrence; he doesn’t get enough credit. He’s the hardest working guy in this organization. When we get those breaks, that’s all Lawrence, so we’re happy to have him.”

“It was a big call those calls are close,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Those guys have a lot of pressure on them and we had a look at it on the bench, too, but we rely on them because they see it first. They have different TVs and different angles, and they’re working it. Andrew Meloche as well, another guy, so both those guys back there, they’re trying to get it right, and they got it right tonight and they deserve a lot of credit.”

Bye-Week Boost:

Every win feels good, but collecting two points just before a five-day break is even better.

Tuesday’s victory over Edmonton allows Preds players, coaches and hockey operations staff to enjoy their vacations with a clear mind while enjoying some much-needed rest and relaxation.

And as Pekka Rinne stated, the Predators will come back ready to “hunt” as the second half of the season commences next week.

“All in all, I’m very happy with the way we’ve been playing, collecting wins and collecting points,” Rinne said. “At the same time, we can’t get comfortable. The biggest thing for us is to get re-energized over the break, get some rest, come back, and be ready to hunt again to try to get that top position in the West.”

“Everyone leaves feeling a little bit better about it,” Laviolette said. “You’re here to win hockey games and players don’t feel good when they lose. It puts everybody in the right frame of mind and a chance to get away and rest your mind and rest your body. You can do it on a winning note, which is positive, and come back and get ready to get going again.”

Notes:

With an assist on Viktor Arvidsson’s goal in the first period, Preds Captain Roman Josi recorded his 264th career point and is now in sole possession of sixth place on Nashville’s all-time scoring list, passing Steve Sullivan for the mark.

During Nashville’s 11-game win streak, the Preds have outscored the Oilers 33-13 and limited them to two-or-fewer goals 10 times, including four shutouts.

The Preds will now observe their League-mandated five-day break before returning to the ice for the remaining four contests of their five-game home stand, beginning on Jan. 16 when the Vegas Golden Knights come to town.

Pete Weber’s Postgame Report