Behind a strong third period and contributions from role players, the Calgary Flames edged the Nashville Predators, 3-2, and picked up their fifth straight victory.
Nick Spaling and Ryan Suter opened up the game by taking two early penalties. But Pekka Rinne and the penalty kill bailed them out with some nice work. The two kills were huge at that moment, as the Preds got on the board shortly thereafter.
Martin Erat finished off a pinpoint feed from Sergei Kostitsyn at 7:43 of the first, giving the Preds a 1-0 lead. They had two power play chances of their own later in the period, but couldn’t convert despite some nice movement in Calgary’s zone. Shots wise, Nashville ended the period on a 10-2 run.
“They came at us real hard early,” said Preds coach Barry Trotz. “It started with our penalty kill. They gave us some momentum with a couple kills. I thought we dominated the first after that point.”
It was a pretty quiet and inept second period for both sides, but the Preds sustained some pressure at the end of the frame and drew a penalty from Miikka Kiprusoff. The power play carried over into the third, but the Preds failed to convert.
There was a goal-scoring flurry in the first 10 minutes of the third. Matt Stajan’s slap shot eluded Rinne, tying the game at 1-1. Patric Hornqvist gave Nashville the lead again when his wrister from between the circles found the back of the net. It was their first power play goal on four chances.
Calgary tied the game once again, though, when Cory Sarich one-timed a feed from Alex Tanguay with 10:56 left in regulation; it was just his second goal of the season. Brent Sutter’s club controlled the later stages of the third, but the Preds were able to force overtime thanks to a big penalty kill late.
Neither team threatened too much in the overtime period, sending the contest to a shootout. Rene Bourque scored the lone goal in the shootout, giving the Flames their fifth consecutive victory. It was Nashville’s second loss in eight days to Calgary, which doesn’t sit well with Trotz.
“I’m not happy with a point – I was hoping we’d get two,” Trotz said. “They’re a good hockey team. They’re playing really well, they’ve won five in a row and aren’t giving up much defensively.”
Kiprusoff made some big saves and was stellar in the shootout. The Preds will be kicking themselves for letting this one get away, especially to a team is trying to hunt them down in the standings.
With the loss, the Predators are 0-1-2 against the Flames this year; Calgary has held Nashville to three goals in three games in those games. Also, Rinne is now 0-3-2 against them in his career.
“It’s really frustrating,” Rinne said. “It seems like it’s hard to win – personally and for our team – it’s been a tough opponent. Tonight, I – there’s no room for mistakes. I gave up a bad goal and that gave them a little bit of momentum.”
Nashville will look to snap their three-game skid Thursday night in Philadelphia.