EDMONTON — Jordan Eberle had a pair of goals and an assist as the Edmonton Oilers continued to put crimps in other teams’ playoff plans, coming away with a 5-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
Sam Gagner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall also scored for the Oilers (25-36-9), who have won two in a row and gone 10-4-3 in their past 17 games, and at least temporarily moved past Florida into third-last in the NHL.
Gabriel Bourque replied for the Predators (29-30-10) who have lost two in a row and are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the second year in a row as they are nine points out of the last postseason berth in the West with just 13 games remaining on the schedule.
The game started on a rough note just 48 seconds in as Predators defenceman Ryan Ellis pasted Eberle into the boards on a cross-check from behind, igniting a scrum.
The Predators came close with five minutes remaining in the first period as they took a bit of a surprise shot on Oilers goalie Viktor Fasth that he got a piece of with his glove before looking like an offensive lineman and preventing Patric Hornqvist from getting to the rebound in the crease.
Edmonton broke the scoreless deadlock with 35 seconds left in the opening frame as the rebound from a Martin Marincin point shot came to Gagner in the blue paint and he hooked a backhand shot past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. It was just Gagner’s eighth goal of the season. The Preds came close to tying the game four minutes into the second, but a Nick Spaling shot rang off the post.
Edmonton made it a 2-0 game eight minutes into the second as Eberle made a long cross-ice pass through traffic on the power play to Nugent-Hopkins, who wrested a shot that went off the tip of Rinne’s glove and in. It was the 16th goal of the season for Nugent-Hopkins, breaking a 15-game scoreless drought.
The Oilers took a three-goal lead on a bit of an unusual play with five minutes left in the second period as Hall took a backhand golf swing of a shot that found the top corner and quickly exited the net. Play continued for 1:17 before the Oilers took a penalty and they were able to review the shot and determine it was a goal.
Nashville got on the board with 1:21 remaining in the second as Hornqvist took the puck behind the net before hooking it in front to Bourque, who sent a shot through traffic to beat Fasth.
Edmonton made it 4-1 eight-and-a-half minutes into the third period with another power-play goal. Anton Lander picked up his first point of the season on a nice feed to Eberle at the side of the net as he lifted a backhand shot that ticked off of Rinne and in. Eberle scored his second goal of the game just 1:23 later, breaking into the Nashville zone with speed and scoring his 23rd of the season on a low backhand shot.
Rinne was replaced by backup Carter Hutton for the remainder of the game.
The Predators play the second match of their four-game road trip in Vancouver on Wednesday night. The Oilers welcome the Buffalo Sabres for the second game of their six-game homestand on Thursday.
It was the third and final meeting of the season between Edmonton and Nashville. The Oilers also won the two previous games by a combined score of 8-1.