Predators win streak ends at 3

Juuse Saros did everything he could for the Preds to come away with one point in Thursday night’s shootout loss in Edmonton. Prior to the season, most pundits predicted the Oilers to make the playoffs easily and for the Predators to be fighting for a chance to play in April. Fast forward to the end of January, and Nashville is sitting in a playoff spot while Oilers seem to be filled with the kind of drama you would find on ‘The Young and the Restless’ as opposed to a team ready to compete for the cup.

One of the main points of contention in Edmonton this season has been the play of goaltender Mikko Koskinen and the unavailability of veteran Mike Smith (6 games played this season).

The Predators did little to sustain any extended offensive zone pressure early against the Oilers but jumped out to a first-period lead on the heels of a Filip Forsberg snipe from the point (his 200th career NHL goal). In fairness to Koskinen, he was screened by at least two bodies as the puck pinned the top corner of the net.

A goal with less than a minute to go in the first period from Connor McDavid tied the game at one going into the second. McDavid snatched the puck out of the air in his own zone and took off screaming down the ice and froze Saros with his speed and slipped it through his 5-hole.

Midway through the second, Forsberg found Matt Duchene darting through the neutral zone leading to his 21st on the year. Duchene, who’s having an excellent bounce-back year, may have frozen Koskinen with a slight bobble of the puck before hammering it home in the top right corner as he streaked into the zone.

An Evan Bouchard pinball shot would deflect off a skate and stick before sliding past Saros to tie the game up at 2 to end the second. The next 30 minutes of play would continue scoreless as the Oilers peppered Saros with thirteen shots in the third, many of them from high-quality areas. Koskinen stood tall himself making a few tough saves to end regulation, including a pair of in-close chances from Tanner Jeannot.

Overtime was the chance for both goalies to shine as Koskinen and Saros each made a number of tough saves from high-scoring chances in the slot. The closest anyone came to ending it during the three-on-three was when Draisaitl rang a puck off the post.

The two netminders continued their impressive play into the shootout until, you guessed it, Connor McDavid. He came gliding in on Saros from the right faceoff dot and faked out everyone in Rogers Place with a backhand/forehand combination that left Saros face down on the ice and the puck in the back of the net. Koskinen responded by shutting out all of the Predators shooters giving Edmonton a much-needed 2 points as they try and climb back into the Western Conference/Pacific Division playoff race. The Oilers will have a chance to climb out of this hole they’ve dug themselves only if Koskinen can play like he did Thursday night.

Saros was near perfect as he set aside 44 of 46 shots (.957 sv%). A puck that bounced off a stick and skate, a rush up the ice, and a shootout goal by the most talented player on the planet were the only blemishes on his otherwise impressive night. He continues his strong season that should garner him some Vezina votes.

The Preds play one more game Tuesday night in Nashville against the Vancouver Canucks before getting a week off with the All-Star break.

Luca Perito

Born and raised in New York. I've lived in Arizona, Maryland, Delaware, and California. Love all sports. Twitter @elbigcalzonelp -- Instagram @thebigcalzone

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