|Hot Oilers look to end jinx against Predators|
A winning streak after a slow start can do wonders for a team's confidence. Ending a long skid against a certain opponent should do more.
On Saturday night at Rogers Place, the Edmonton Oilers go for their first win over the Nashville Predators in more than 4 1/2 years.
Since recording a 5-1 victory on March 18, 2014, in Edmonton, the Oilers have gone 0-10-2 versus Nashville. That includes two shutouts among five straight regulation losses.
Edmonton (3-2-0), which is looking for its fourth consecutive win, has yet to hold a lead after one period in any game this season.
The club can thank Cam Talbot for the recent surge as he enjoys a resurgence.
After a career-best 42 wins and 2.39 goals-against average two seasons ago, Talbot slumped to 31 victories and his GAA rose to 3.02 last season. He credits staying confident early for his recent success as he's stopped 79 of 86 shots while winning three straight starts.
"I'm just going out there and trying to give us a chance," Talbot said Friday. "I know that if I can get us through that first 10-15 minutes, we seem to take over the game after that point."
Having Connor McDavid on the ice also gives the Oilers a huge confidence boost. He collected two assists, one coming on Leon Draisaitl's game-winner 37 seconds into overtime, as Edmonton opened its home schedule Thursday night with its third straight win, 3-2 over the Boston Bruins.
McDavid, the reigning two-time scoring champion, has four goals and seven assists through five games. He also scored goals in each of the Oilers' last two matchups with the Preds.
Still, coach Todd McLellan praised Talbot, who stopped all 12 shots in the opening 20 minutes and finished with 27 saves against the Bruins.
"Talbs was essential in the first period," McLellan told the team's official website on Thursday. "We were flat, we were frozen. Once we got going and once we got skating and supporting puck movement, we were a lot better.
"Without Cam's performance in the first period, we don't get a chance to come back."
But Talbot hasn't beaten the Predators since joining Edmonton as a free agent in 2015 despite solid statistics. In seven starts, the 31-year-old is 0-6-1 with a 2.89 GAA.
Nashville (6-1-0) opened its road trip through Alberta with a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday night. The Preds' lone loss of the season came in their home opener on Oct. 9 against the Flames
Pekka Rinne stopped 15 of 18 shots Friday before being lifted early in the third period after colliding with winger Kevin Fiala. According to the team's official website, Predators coach Peter Laviolette did not have an update on Rinne after the game.
Juuse Saros made nine saves the rest of the way to get the win, and will likely start with games on back-to-back nights as well as to give the 35-year-old Vezina Trophy winner some extended rest.
"Just because we have the backup in doesn't mean we can't win," defenseman Yannick Weber told the team's official website on Thursday. "Juuse gives us a chance to win every game he plays. We've seen it already this year, too, and we have a lot of confidence in him."
Saros, a 23-year-old Finn who defeated the New York Islanders twice in his only two appearances of the season before Friday, has stopped 55 of 60 shots.
He also made a career-high 46 saves in a 4-0 win over the Oilers on Dec. 14, 2017, in Edmonton.
Rinne is 20-6-1 with a 2.31 GAA and four shutouts in 29 career starts against the Oilers.
With a goal and assist Friday, Nashville's Filip Forsberg has four goals and two assists in a four-game streak. Two of the three career goals the winger has scored at Rogers Place have come on the power play.