Predators blank Oilers behind Saros
EDMONTON, Alberta — The Edmonton Oilers dominated the Nashville Predators everywhere but on the scoreboard Thursday.
They outshot Nashville 22-4 in the first period. They were up 33-13 in shots at the end of the second. It should have been a blowout.
But in a bizarre 60 minutes at Rogers Place, the Oilers were the guys who wound up getting blown out in a 4-0 loss to the Central Division-leading Predators.
Backup goaltender Juuse Saros stole the show. The 22-year-old, starting in place of Pekka Rinne, stopped 46 shots for his third victory of the season.
It is the most saves an opposition goalie has ever made in a shutout win against the Oilers.
“I don’t think we were quite ready in the first and we needed some goaltending,” understated Predators head coach Peter Laviolette. “In the first period when you get outshot 22-4 and you walk into the room with the game still tied 0-0, you are thankful that you’re goalie was ready to play and was able to give you an opportunity to win a hockey game. Without him playing the way he did in the first period, we don’t have a chance.”
Saros settled things down long enough for Pontus Aberg, Kevin Fiala, Kyle Turris and Roman Josi to score second-period goals on Edmonton goalie Laurent Brossoit.
“I like to see a lot of pucks,” said Saros, who didn’t mind the workload. “You don’t think as much and you just go with the flow. It’s a good way to get into the game. I like to get a lot of shots. I like those kind of games.”
The Oilers were in stunned silence afterward, struggling to come to grips with how badly they’d just been robbed.
“I don’t think it’s fair, this game,” said Edmonton winger Patrick Maroon. “I’ve been around the game for a long time now and it’s a weird, weird game. You’re going to go through times where you shouldn’t win, but you do. And you’re going to go through times when you should have won by a lot and don’t win.”
And Thursday was definitely the latter, in their opinion.
“Other than the result we outplayed them in every aspect of the game,” said winger Milan Lucic, who still likes the way the 14th-place Oilers have been playing lately. “We know the reality of the spot we’re in but our game, especially in the last four games, is trending in the right way. We have to build on that more than the loss here tonight.”
It was scoreless after the first 20 minutes thanks to Saros, but the Predators took over for good in the second.
Aberg scored on their first shot of the second period and their fifth of the game. Fiala made it 2-0 on their seventh shot, Turris made it 3-0 on their 11th and Josi made it 4-0 on their 13th.
The Predators continue to steamroll the rest of the NHL. They are 15-2-2 in their last 19 games and 20-7-4 overall.
“We just really capitalized on our chances tonight, especially in the second,” said Josi. “We got a couple chances and found a way to score. We didn’t play our best game, but we found a way to score timely goals and to win the game. That speaks well for our team.”
It’s been a maddening stretch for the Oilers (13-17-2). In their last four games, they have shelled two of the best goalies in the NHL, putting up 13 goals in chasing Montreal’s Carey Price and Columbus’s Sergei Bobrovsky, but have been stymied by a pair of backups in Saros and Toronto’s Curtis McElhinney, who beat them 1-0.
“It was a little bit of that Toronto feeling again,” said Edmonton defenseman Oscar Klefbom. “We couldn’t get the first one. It doesn’t matter if we let in one goal or eight goals if we don’t score the first one.
“We have to get the first one. This is not going to be the last time we face a good goalie.”
NOTES: Oilers G Cam Talbot, who has been out six games with a lower-body injury, is now days away from a return. He expects to be in one of the next two games. ... Nashville G Pekka Rinne is 9-0-0 with three shutouts in his last nine games against Edmonton, but sat out Thursday because he played Wednesday. ... Predators C Ryan Johansen saw his four-game point scoring streak against the Oilers come to an end. ... The Predators are 12-2-2 since Kyle Turris joined the team. ... Oilers D Adam Larsson, who’s been out more than a week with an upper-body injury, is now practicing with the team and expects to be back by the weekend. ... The Oilers have only won back-to-back games twice in the first 32 games of the season. ... Nashville has only lost five games in regulation since dropping the first two contests of the regular season. ... The Oilers have won only five of their first 15 games at home this season.