By Amanda DiPaolo
The Calgary Flames continued their hot streak as they edged Nashville 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. It was the fifth win in a row for the Flames and the 6th time in the last 11 games that Calgary saw action beyond regulation. The Predators have now lost three straight games and face the Flyers, leaders of the Eastern Conference, on Thursday night.
The shootout winner was scored by Rene Bourque. He was the only player to score on either goalie. Incidentally, Bourque scored the only goal against Nashville in October when the Predators lost to the Flames 1-0 in overtime.
Rinne has never beat the Flames and now has a 0-3-2 record against Calgary. “They are a physical team. They have been playing pretty well against us,” Rinne said. “Personally, it seems impossible to beat them. I find a way to lose a game. I feel like it was my fault.”
The Predators started the first five minutes of the game predominantly shorthanded. Nick Spaling was called for hooking just 20 seconds into the game when Olli Jokinen was breaking in on Pekka Rinne. Ryan Suter was called 3:24 into the period for delay of game when he closed his hand on the puck.
Rinne was called upon to bail his team out when Alex Tanguay was left alone in front of the net without any coverage. Rinne’s glove save set the tone for the rest of the penalty kill. The Predators killed off both power play opportunities for the Flames not allowing Calgary to sustain much offensive pressure.
The Predators got on the board first when Martin Erat one-timed a Sergei Kostitsyn shot into the back of the net passed Miikka Kiprusoff. It was Erat’s seventh goal of the season. Marcel Goc picked up the other assist.
Nashville also had opportunities on the power play. Adam Pardy was called for interference on Jerred Smithson at 11:43 and Robin Regehr was sent to the box for slashing Nick Spaling at 15:52.
The Predators couldn’t add to their lead, but on the first power play, Nashville maintained puck possession in the Calgary zone for their entire two minutes, registering four shots on goal. The second power play opportunity was less threatening but Nashville still got two shots on Kiprusoff.
Nashville started the second period like it had the first, with Nick Spaling headed to the penalty box. Spaling was called for tripping not even two minutes into the middle frame. Following the pattern of the first period, Nashville was called for a second minor when Smithson got two minutes for high-sticking at 5:32 of the second period. Both penalties were drawn by Niklas Hagman.
With just 46.5 seconds remaining in the period, Nick Spaling drew a penalty when Kiprusoff reached behind his net and grabbed at Spaling. Tim Jackman served the penalty for interference.
The Predators started the third period with the man advantage, but it would be Calgary to get on the scoreboard. Matt Stajan got his fourth goal of the season just 2:57 into the final frame to tie the game. Jackson and Curtis Glencross picked up the assists. It looked like Rinne had made the save, but the puck got through the goaltender’s five-hole to tie the game at one.
“It was that kind of game today,” Rinne said. “There is no room for mistakes for us. It was a bad goal, no question.”
When Olli Jokinen was called for tripping two minutes later, Patric Hornqvist scored at 5:24 to make it a 2-1 game. It was the sixteenth goal of the season for Hornqvist. Shea Weber and Kostitsyn picked up the assists.
But Calgary fought their way back to tie it up. Cory Sarich, known in Nashville this year as the player who took Ryan Suter out of action earlier in the season, scored to tie the game. Sarich took a pass from Tanguay down low behind the net, and, from the slot, beat Rinne at 10:56 into final frame.
After no one scored in overtime, the game was settled by the shootout. Erat, Cody Franson, and David Legwand could not score on Calgary’s netminder. Bourque did score on Rinne to give the game to the Flames. Jokinen and Tanguay were the other Calgary shooters.
The Predators play Philadelphia on Thursday night and then return home for games against Detroit and Edmonton on Saturday and Monday night.
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