EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -It took a trip through Canada for the Nashville Predators to make up some ground on their rivals out west.
Pekka Rinne made 32 saves to help the Predators beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Sunday, sending Nashville into a three-way tie for 10th in the Western Conference with Los Angeles and Colorado. Suddenly, the Predators are just six points out of playoff position.
``We're trying to claw ourselves back into the group,' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ``There are teams that we have to catch on this trip and getting two out of three in Canada is pretty tough. The two teams that we're really realistically chasing are Vancouver and Edmonton. So we got the right games.'
The Predators won two of three in Canada, losing to Calgary.
``When you have a game like that where you can drive the nail in, you have to get that game,' said Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish. ``One thing you want to show in a game like that is the intensity.'
Martin Erat and J.P. Dumont scored for Nashville, which held on after Edmonton got a goal midway through the third period.
The Oilers (25-21-3) also missed an opportunity to gain ground in the Western Conference. They remain tied for sixth with Dallas and Minnesota, both idle with only three games in the NHL on Sunday.
``We really have to work on being more consistent,' said Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert. ``We don't want to fall back into the habit of winning one, losing one. Going back and forth when you are trying to catch teams for a playoff run. We have to get back on the same page again.'
MacTavish said his team was undone by a hungry Predators lineup, and called on his team to do the same.
``We didn't have enough jam from our role players,' he said. ``It was a case of the (Joel) Ward's and (Jerred) Smithson's outplaying four or five of our guys that we are counting on to do the same thing.
``To be an NHL player you have to provide some consistency. If you don't have the stats to back up a stall in that dressing room, you had better provide some jam. We didn't get enough of it early and it was our undoing.'
Trotz agreed many of his unheralded players stepped up and made a difference in the game.
``Our team is full of guys that haven't been drafted and worked their way up and I call them True Predators,' he said. ``They've got a lot of fiber to their game. They might not have the stats but they have the intangibles. Our third and fourth lines always have a lot of that.'
Nashville went in front in the second period. Gilbert coughed the puck up to Dumont deep in Edmonton territory and he was able to bank the puck off goalie Dwayne Roloson at 12:04.
The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the third. David Legwand made a nice pass to Erat, who deked Roloson for his 13th goal of the season.
Ales Hemsky converted a one-timer at 9:39 to get the Oilers within one, but they couldn't get another past Rinne. Edmonton put 33 shots on goal to 29 for Nashville.
Notes: Nashville right wing Jordin Tootoo was a late scratch after injuring his hand during a fight with Todd Bertuzzi during the Predators' loss to the Flames on Friday. ... Assistant captain Steve Staios played his 500th career game for Edmonton.
The Associated Press News Service
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