The rules of the tortoise and the hare don’t apply when playing the Edmonton Oilers.
Don’t start fast or don’t finish fast or don’t go fast in between and you’re going to get left behind.
Just ask the Nashville Predators. They essentially were stuck on the starting line Tuesday and came nowhere near closing the gap at any time. They allowed three goals in the first period and three more in the third and were whipped 6-2 before a crowd of 16,838 at Bridgestone Arena to conclude a five-game homestand.
“We lost the game in the first period,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We didn’t lose it in the third, that’s for sure.”
Edmonton, with its fleet of young, fast forwards accented by the occasional veteran, outshot Nashville 13-3 over the opening 20 minutes and poured in three goals in a span of 6:20.
By game’s end, 21-year-old Jordan Eberle had a game-high three points (two goals, one assist) and five others had two points each, including 33-year-old Shawn Horcoff, who got his team’s first and last goals.
The Predators responded with 18 shots — but no goals — in the second, and Edmonton answered their first goal — scored by Jordin Tootoo at 11:32 of the third — with one of its own less than a minute later.
“We came out a little flat there,” center David Legwand said. “We weren’t skating or moving our feet. Anytime we don’t do that stuff it’s going to put us in a hole. When you get down 3-0 in this league … every team’s a good hockey team in this league, and you have to battle back. We had chances in the second, and we missed them.”
Jonathon Blum’s goal with 20 seconds to play kept it from being the season’s largest margin of defeat. Instead it matched a 5-1 loss on Oct. 20 at Vancouver for the worst.
Still, the last time Nashville allowed six goals was Jan. 16, a 6-3 loss at Chicago, 57 games ago. The last time it gave up six at home was a 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 18, 2010.
Pekka Rinne gave up the first three but was pulled for the start of the second period. Anders Lindback faced 19 shots over the final two periods and gave up the second three.
“I didn’t want to subject [Rinne] to an effort like we had in the first,” Trotz said. “It was unfocused. We were not focused to get done what we needed to beat the Edmonton Oilers.”
This was the second meeting of the season between the teams, which started the game two points apart in the Western Conference standings. Nashville dropped the first 3-1 at Edmonton, a game it led 1-0 at the start of the third.
Now they are tied with 24 points apiece, although it certainly feels as if the Oilers are a step ahead.
“You have to respect them,” captain Shea Weber said. “They have a lot of skill, a lot of speed and obviously, guys who can finish plays.
“We can sit around and talk about it all we want. We knew we needed to be prepared and we weren’t.”
• Trotz said that going into the game he expected to play Lindback in the second half of the back-to-back, which concludes Wednesday at Minnesota (7 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee).
“We were going to say we were going to see how the [Edmonton] game goes, but I was going to split them, yes,” Trotz said.
With Lindback having played two periods against the Oilers, Trotz did not say what his plan is now.
• Tootoo’s goal was his first of the season and snapped a string of 21 games since his last.
“Anytime you can contribute offensively, it’s always a bonus,” he said. “But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. We’re here to get two points, and we didn’t do that.”
Actually, he did. He added an assist on Blum’s goal.