Nashville Hopes to Steal One on the Road in Edmonton
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The Edmonton Oilers are unbeaten at home and they’re making it look easy. To keep that streak going, they have to beat one of the league’s hottest goaltenders.
Edmonton goes for its seventh straight home win to start the season Wednesday when it meets Tomas Vokoun and the Nashville Predators at Rexall Place.
Last season, the Oilers (7-4-0) were a better road team, recording 21 of 41 regular-season wins there en route to their first Western Conference title since 1990.
So far this season, Edmonton and Northwest Division rival Minnesota are the only teams yet to lose at home.
“It’s a little bit of a change,” said goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who made 19 saves in a 4-0 win Saturday over Washington for his 19th career shutout. “Last year, when I got here, we were a great road team and at home we weren’t as great.”
Dating back to last season, the Oilers have won 10 straight at Rexall Place.
While coach Craig MacTavish is pleased with his team’s play at home, he says they need to improve on the road. After a home game Friday against Dallas, the Oilers start a five-game road trip Tuesday at Montreal.
“We haven’t had a lot of success on the road this year,” MacTavish said. “We’ve only won one game out of five, which is certainly not the level we want to be at.”
Ryan Smyth had a goal and assist in the win over the Capitals to break out of a slump in which he had only one assist in six games. Smyth scored a goal in each of the four games versus Nashville last season and added two assists.
Petr Sykora continued his recent strong play for Edmonton with an assist, giving him four goals and three assists in his last five games. Signed as a free agent after splitting time last season with the Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers, Sykora has recorded a point in eight of 11 games.
The Predators (7-3-1), playing the third game of a five-game road trip, wrapped up their first month of the season Tuesday by beating Vancouver 3-2 to move atop the Central Division.
Vokoun continued his amazing turnaround with a 22-save performance. After giving up 13 goals while losing his first two starts this season, he’s 6-0-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and a shutout.
He went 1-2-1 with a 3.45 GAA in four games against Edmonton in 2005-06.
Steve Sullivan tapped in his own rebound on a breakaway with 5:41 to play in the third period to help Nashville to its third straight win, all one-goal decisions.
“I was trying to go five hole and (Canucks goaltender Roberto) Luongo made a good save on me, said Sullivan. “But the puck was just lying there and I was able to take a second whack at it and it fluttered in. I just tried to get a stick on it and pray.”
The Predators are 7-0-1 after a season-opening three-game losing streak, and that surge has pushed them two points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings in the Central.
Paul Kariya has failed to score in the first two games of this road swing, and still needs one point for 800 in his career. He had just one goal in four games against the Oilers last season.
Edmonton was 3-1-0 versus Nashville last season.
by: Gary Roberts – theSpread.com – Email Us
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