Devan Dubnyk played a career game in goal and Ales Hemsky picked up his first career hat trick to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-3 win over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night.
All the focus during the day from Predator fans was on the pending arrival of Alexander Ovechkin but the sold out crowd of 17,113 was there for a victory and were sorely disappointed and took exception repeatedly to questionable calls on the ice from the officials.
In the end, Dubnyk's 41 saves and Hemsky's hattie were the difference on a night when the breaks never went the Predators way.
The Oilers also got goals from Darcy Hordichuk, Ryan Jones and Sma Gagner. The Preds offense came from David Legwand's two goals and Patric Horquist's single marker.
Pekka Rinne was chased from the net seconds into the second period when he gave up his third goal on seven shots. Anders Lindback fared somewhat better in relief, stopping ten goals on 12 shots.
The Predators remained at 92 points at the end of the evening, with the tie-breaker for fourth over Detroit. Chicago bested Columbus to pull within two points of the Preds and Red Wings.
The Predators will leave for Pittsburgh on Wednesday after practice where they will take on the red-hot Penguins on Thursday night.
At The Puck Drop...
In Goal: Devan Dubnyk (16-17-2, 2.72, .912) versus Pekka Rinne (39-15-8, 2.38, .924).
Scratches: Edmonton - Taylor Hall, Cam Barker, Linus Omark, and Andy Sutton. Nashville - Brian McGrattan, Paul Gaustad, Colin Wilson, Jack Hillen, Roman Josi, and Jack MacLellan.
The game got off to a spirited start and a small skirmish broke out at 3:12 when ex-Pred Darcy Hordichuk tried to annoy Craig Smith and Jordin Tootoo stepped in to put an end to it. No penalties were called.
The first scoring chance of the game came at 5:45 when Dubnyk stoned Smith who had an open shot in the slot.
Hordichuk scored his first goal of the year at 12:50 when he threw the puck into the crease from behind the net and it deflected off of Kevin Klein's skate and past an unsuspecting Rinne to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.
At 16:22, Rinne was hit in the crease and taken out after Marty Erat pushed Jeff Petry into Rinne giving Hemsky an open shot at the net where he gave Edmonton a 2-0 lead.
The Predators got on the beard with 6.8 seconds left when Legwand picked up a rebound off of a pair of shots by Shea Weber and Gabriel Bourque to end the period down 2-1.
The Oilers chased Rinne out of the game 28 seconds in to the middle stanza when Hemsky scored his second goal of the game. Rinne officially gave up three goals on seven shots.
Shea Weber picked up the games first penalty at 4:09 when he inadvertently high-sticked ex-Pred Ryan Jones. The Preds had a great scoring chance short-handed but Dubnyk made a great save. The Oilers did pick up a power play goal to go ahead 4-1 when Jones picked up a rebound off a Petry shot to slip it past a committed Lindback.
Patrick Hornqvist put the puck in the net at 9:21 but it was blown off on a horrible call with the officials saying the he interfered with Dubnyk.
The Predators went on the power play at 10:28 when Ben Eager roughed Hornqvist. With 1:34 left in the original penalty Ladislov Smid high-sticked Marty Erat to give the Preds an extended five on three chance. Seven seconds after the first penalty expired, Hornqvist slipped a rebound past Dubnyk to cut the Oiler lead to 4-2.
Hemsky picked up his first career hat trick with a goal at 14:03 when he put it past Lindback on a breakaway chance to give Edmonton a 5-2 lead.
The Predators went on the man-advantage 32 seconds in to the period when Teemu Hartikainen interfered on Legwand. Both teams got a shot during the two minute penalty.
The Predators cut the lead to 5-3 at 4:18 when Legwand slipped the puck past Dubnyk with assists going to Hornqvist and Bourque.
The Preds went back on the man advantage at 8:42 when Petry was called for interfering with Hornqvist. Nashville had several chances but only one shot on a shift when Craig Smith played with plenty of spirit.
At 11:23 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a chance at a shot at an empty net but Weber made an heroic save.
The Predators were getting repeated chances down the stretch but Dubnyk was playing like it was game seven of the Cup final and was getting in front of every chance.
Both teams were penalized at 14:58 when Horcoff an Bouillon hooked up with coincidental minors. At 14:58, Erat had a breakaway on Dubnyk and he came up big on the stop. Both teams had a single shot during four on four play.
Lindback left the Predator net with just under two minutes remaining. With 1:41 left in the contest, Gagner picked up an empty-netter to end any hope of a Predator comeback.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass