Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is certainly showing the Oilers that they did not make a mistake by taking him first overall in the 2011 draft.
The 18-year-old has posted four goals over Edmonton's first three games, including a hat trick in Saturday's 4-3 loss to Vancouver. Nugent-Hopkins scored twice in the first period and then netted his second power-play goal of the game in the middle stanza to break Blair MacDonald's previous rookie record of fastest hat trick. MacDonald turned the trick in his fourth game back in 1979.
Linemates and former first-round picks Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle each had a pair of assists for the Oilers, who got 22 saves from Devan Dubnyk and lost in regulation for the first time this season (1-1-1).
"I think the type of games that we all play, we kind of compliment each others games," said Nugent-Hopkins. "It's exciting to go out there and have the chemistry that we did out there, but it's disappointing to get the loss."
Edmonton did skate on Saturday without forward Ales Hemsky, who has a right shoulder injury that leaves his status week-to-week. Darcy Hordichuk, meanwhile, suffered a knee ailment during a collision versus the Canucks and is out indefinitely.
The Predators look to remain undefeated on the road this year and bring a 2-1-1 mark into this meeting. They won their first two games of the season at Columbus and St. Louis, but were then beaten by Phoenix on Thursday before dropping a 3-2 shootout decision to visiting New Jersey two nights later in their first two home games of 2011-12.
Head coach Barry Trotz wasn't too discouraged after the weekend loss, saying he would take that game over the 5-2 setback to the Coyotes.
"There was a lot of positives out of it," Trotz said postgame. "We started to do what we need to do. We got good goaltending. I thought we were managing the puck batter, doing all those type of things, but you also have to manage the game."
Nashville led by two goals going into the third period, but saw the Devils score twice in the frame. Pekka Rinne made 39 saves through overtime, but was bested twice in the shootout while the Preds failed on both of their attempts.
Jerred Smithson and Colin Wilson recorded first-period goals for Nashville. Sergei Kostitsyn and David Legwand both had assists to extend season-opening point streaks. Kostitsyn has four assists on the year, while Legwand has managed six helpers and eight points.
"We have good lines out there and the guys are clicking well," said Wilson. "We'll get things together out here soon enough."
Nashville, which begins a three-game tour of Western Canada tonight, is 8-1-1 in its last 10 trips to Edmonton and has posted a mark of 16-3-1 in the past 20 meetings overall.