(SportsNetwork.com) - Ilya Bryzgalov is scheduled to make his first start as a member of the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, as the goaltender's new club visits the surging Nashville Predators for a clash at Bridgestone Arena.
Bryzgalov saw his first action with Edmonton in a relief role during Monday's 5-1 home loss to Chicago, stopping 12-of-13 shots after taking over in the second period for an ineffective Devan Dubnyk.
The veteran Russian netminder became a free agent when he had the final six years of an eight-year, $51 million deal bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers this past summer. He went 33-16-7 with a 2.48 goals against average and six shutouts in 59 games during his first season with the Flyers, but was just 19-17-3 with a 2.79 GAA in 40 games last season.
Signed to a one-year deal by the Oilers on Nov. 8, Bryzgalov spent time with Edmonton's AHL affiliate for conditioning purposes before joining the NHL club last week. He spent his first three games backing up Dubnyk before getting the opportunity to start tonight's contest.
"I think he's comfortable with his situation here," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins told his team's official website of Bryzgalov. "He knows how the game goes. This isn't a young player coming who's not quite sure how it works. He's a veteran guy. He understands that whoever's hot and whoever's winning is going to be in the net. If it's the other guy, he's good with it. All that Bryz wants is our team to win."
Bryzgalov will try to get the Oilers back on track Thursday after they had a season-high three-game winning streak snapped in Monday's blowout loss against the visiting Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews had a shorthanded goal and Patrick Kane scored on a power play during a three-minute span in the first period, sparking Chicago to the easy win at Rexall Place.
Edmonton had won a season-high three games following a 1-9-1 stretch, but was down 4-0 just 5:49 into the second period on Monday.
Justin Schultz scored the Oilers' goal and Dubnyk gave up four goals on 14 shots before he was pulled.
Oilers winger Nail Yakupov suffered a lower-body injury in Monday's loss, but the Russian youngster is expected to play tonight. Yakupov, the first overall pick of the 2012 draft, has four goals and five assists in 23 games this season.
Thursday's tilt is the first stop on a three-game road trip for the Oilers, who are 4-8-2 as the visiting team this season.
Nashville enters Thursday's tilt on an upswing, having won two straight and five of its last six games. The Predators notched a 4-0 win in their most recent outing Wednesday night in Columbus.
Marek Mazanec made 19 saves to notch his second career shutout as Nashville Predators blanked the Blue Jackets. Matt Cullen and Nick Spaling both had a goal and an assist for the Nashville, while Mike Fisher and David Legwand also lit the lamp.
Mazanec, meanwhile, improved to 5-3-0 this season. The rookie continues to do a solid job filling in for injured No. 1 goaltender Pekka Rinne, who is sidelined following hip surgery.
"The first 30 minutes, it was pretty quiet back there (for Mazanec)," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "It was a pretty easy night for him.
"It was sort of a team win. We defended hard. We had some critical blocked shots when we needed, won battles, and then Maz made some saves when we needed."
It's unclear if Mazanec will garner a start on consecutive days or if backup Carter Hutton will get the call on Thursday. Hutton last played on Nov. 15 in a relief role against Pittsburgh and hasn't started a game since surrendering five goals in a loss against New Jersey on Nov. 10.
Forwards Filip Forsberg and Patric Hornqvist are questionable for the Predators tonight with upper-body injuries. Forsberg has sat out the past six games with his injury, while Hornqvist has missed the last two.
Nashville won two of its three meetings against the Oilers last season, but Edmonton has taken four of seven overall in the series. The clubs have split the last six encounters in Music City, but Edmonton has lost in its past two trips to Nashville.