In the middle of the logjam that is the Western Conference playoff race, the Nashville Predators feel they're prepared to make a run. This four-game road trip could prove to be a difficult test, but facing the league-worst Edmonton Oilers first could create some momentum.
The Predators look to start the swing in strong fashion Tuesday night as they attempt to re-establish their dominance of the Oilers, who just dealt one of their leading goal scorers.
Nashville (32-23-8) is tied with Dallas and Minnesota for the last playoff spot in the West. All three teams are one point back of Calgary for seventh and two behind the fifth-place tie between Chicago and Los Angeles.
The Predators, who acquired Mike Fisher from Ottawa for two draft picks Feb. 10, opted to stand pat at Monday's trade deadline.
Fisher has one goal and three assists in eight games since joining Nashville, setting up a goal by Shea Weber in Sunday's 3-2 win over Columbus.
"The one thing this year in the trading deadline, at least for me, teams went out early," general manager David Poile said. "There was a lot more significant trades in the last couple of weeks, including ours with Mike Fisher.
"Our team is set. We've 19 games left. We've got 12 of those games at home, and hopefully home cooking with be good for us."
First, they'll be on the road for eight days, and they've dropped five of their last six away from home.
After facing the Oilers (20-35-8), the Predators will visit league-best Vancouver, Calgary and Pacific Division-leading San Jose.
Nashville might be in position to get the trip off to a strong start after Edmonton dealt winger Dustin Penner to Los Angeles on Monday for defenseman Colton Teubert, a 2011 first-round pick and a third-rounder the following year.
Teubert, who could make his NHL debut Tuesday, is a highly regarded prospect after being drafted 13th overall by the Kings in 2008.
Penner was tied with rookie Taylor Hall as the Oilers' top scorer with 21 goals. However, he was the subject of scorn by the club's fans for failing to produce more after signing a controversial five-year, $21.5 million offer sheet that Anaheim declined to match prior to the 2008-09 season.
The Predators have won 15 of the last 18 meetings with Edmonton, but dropped the most recent 4-0 at home Feb. 7. Nashville took the latest matchup at Rexall Place on Jan. 23, 3-2 in a shootout to win for the eighth time in nine visits.
Weber, the team leader with 39 points, has four goals and three assists in nine games there.
The Oilers have dropped the first two of this four-game homestand, which concludes Thursday against Columbus. They dropped to 4-11-2 their last 17 at Rexall Place after a 3-2 loss to Boston on Sunday in which they were outshot 40-17.
"We competed and we didn't let numbers bother us," coach Tom Renney said. "We just kept playing and wouldn't go away, which is important. We did everything we could to play through it and play with them."
Ales Hemsky, the team leader with 42 points, has five goals and five assists in the past seven home games. He has 17 points in 22 meetings with Nashville, including three goals and two assists the last six at home.
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