Predators-Oilers Preview

A strong showing to open a four-game trip through Canada might be exactly what the Nashville Predators needed to turn things around on the road.

Armed with a sense of urgency, the Predators can build on that key win with a fifth straight victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.

Ryan Johansen and James Neal each had a goal with an assist as Nashville (21-18-8) snapped an 0-3-1 road slide with Thursday's 4-1 victory at Winnipeg. Johansen has three goals and six assists in seven games since being acquired from Columbus.

"It was a great team win, a good way to start off what is going to be a tough road trip," said Neal, who has two goals with three assists in four games since going seven straight without a point.

Just outside of playoff position in the Western Conference, the Predators have four wins in their last 17 road contests. The only time they've won back-to-back games away from home came in October. However, they appear extra determined to improve that play on a trip that leads into next week's All-Star break.

"They're huge points, and they're playoff-like games," Neal told the NHL's official website. "(Each team) is fighting for its playoff lives, so you've got to do everything you can to grab a point, grab two."

Nashville has scored four goals in each game while earning three points in its last two on the road - both at Winnipeg. It's also recorded a power-play goal in three straight away from home and killed 12 of 13 penalties over the same span.

"Hard work, especially on the road," said Pekka Rinne, who made 26 saves Thursday to snap an 0-4-1 overall slide that resulted in a 3.73 goals-against average.

"I know it sounds (very) simple, but it's just the way it is. It's really the simple things, but I think that's what it comes down to when you win on the road."

The Predators won 4-1 in their last visit to Edmonton on Oct. 29, 2014, and haven't allowed a goal in the last two overall meetings. Nashville has never shut out the same opponent in three consecutive contests.

Rinne made 31 saves in a 2-0 win over the Oilers (19-25-5) on Oct. 10, and has an 0.74 GAA during the four-game series winning streak.

Boston was the last team to blank Edmonton in three straight meetings spanning the 2006-07 and '09-10 seasons.

The Oilers scored four goals each time while splitting the first two of a three-game trip before Thursday's 3-2 loss at Dallas. Teddy Purcell scored for the second time in three games but Edmonton was held to two or fewer goals for the 12th time during a 5-10-3 stretch.

"Those moral victories don't put points in the bank," coach Todd McLellan said after Thursday's respectable performance. "So I'm disappointed in that, but the effort at the back end of a road trip, a long couple weeks, was real strong, and I'm happy for that."

This will be Edmonton's final game before a break that could help heal McLellan's ailing roster. The Oilers are dealing with long-term injuries to key forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand) and Connor McDavid (clavicle), while winger Lauri Korpikoski (foot) is a long-short to return from a three-game absence Saturday.

"Guys are resilient and they're stepping up, taking on bigger roles," Purcell said. "We're working our tails off and trying to do the right thing."


More NHL