EDMONTON, Alberta — Mattias Ekholm and the Nashville Predators just took a couple of steps in the right direction.
Ekholm scored twice, Pekka Rinne made 23 saves in his 40th start of the season and Nashville defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Saturday night.
Mike Fisher also scored and Filip Forsberg had an empty-net goal and an assist for the Predators, who had lost six of seven before winning their past two games.
“It was a really good road win for us,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought our guys played hard. They played hard, they played smart and we were able to chip in some timely goals.”
Those goals came at opportune times — but they won’t make any highlight reels.
“It wasn’t pretty. Both my goals weren’t really how we drew it up,” Ekholm said. “But we’ll take it in the position we’re in. When you shoot, sometimes you create some stuff and that’s what happened tonight. It was a greasy road win for us, a good road win for us, and we deserved the two points.”
Leon Draisaitl scored for the Oilers, who have lost three in a row heading into a nine-day hiatus.
“We actually played a solid game, but it is frustrating to lose a game like that before this break,” Draisaitl said. “It would have been nice to go into the break on a win and feeling good about ourselves.”
Edmonton coach Todd McLellan thought not everybody was ready to go come game time, and that upset him.
“We had some guys who really came and participated and we had some passengers tonight,” he said. “When you are as thin as we are right now, you can’t have that.”
Edmonton got on the board first with a goal 12 minutes in as Draisaitl made a great individual effort to cut back on defender Shea Weber and send a backhand shot past Rinne.
Nashville got that goal right back, though, as Ekholm was finally able to chip a puck past Oilers starter Cam Talbot after a scramble in front.
The Predators took a 2-1 lead on the power play 1:48 into the second with an unusual goal. Ekholm’s shot hit defender Andrej Sekera, ended up in Talbot’s equipment and disappeared from view for a few seconds without the play being blown dead. The puck fell out and ended up in the net as Talbot was backing up looking for it.
Nashville took a two-goal lead 52 seconds into the third when Weber made a bullet pass from the corner to give Fisher a tap-in goal.
Forsberg added an empty-netter to seal the victory.
Talbot kicked out 21 of 24 shots in defeat.
It was the second of three games between the teams this season. The Predators won the first matchup 2-0 on Oct. 10 in Nashville. … Out for the Oilers were Connor McDavid (clavicle), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand), Oscar Klefbom (lower body), Brandon Davidson (undisclosed) and Andrew Ference (hip). Griffin Reinhart was called up from Bakersfield of the AHL to fill Davidson’s spot on defense. … Injured for the Predators were Colin Wilson (lower body) and Gabriel Bourque (upper body). … The Predators visit Vancouver on Tuesday. The Oilers return to action Feb. 2 against Columbus.