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Fading Predators visit Flames
(SportsNetwork.com) - With losses in three straight and seven of their last 10 games, the Nashville Predators have seriously damaged their already slim playoff chances.
The Predators hope to boost their fading postseason hopes when they visit the Calgary Flames for Friday's clash at the Saddledome.
Calgary is one of only two teams behind the Predators in the Western Conference standings. With only 12 games left in its regular-season schedule, Nashville is 11 points behind Phoenix for the last wild card berth in the West.
The Flames, who trail Nashville by five points in the standings, can win the season series against the Preds on Friday. Nashville earned a 4-2 home win on Jan. 14, but Calgary responded 10 days later with a 5-4 shootout victory at the Saddledome.
Nashville has won six of nine in the series overall, but the Flames have claimed three straight and five of the last six encounters in Calgary.
With an average of 2.34 goals per game, the Predators' offense has been a sore spot for the club all season long. The problem has been magnified of late, as Nashville has been held to one goal or less in seven of its past 10 games.
The Preds have notched a total of two goals during their current three-game slide and the club was shut out Wednesday night in Vancouver, dropping a 2-0 decision against the Canucks. That setback came one day after Nashville opened a four-game road trip with a 5-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the bottom team in the Western Conference.
Rookie goaltender Eddie Lack of the Canucks made 30 saves to frustrate the Predators on Wednesday. Nashville failed to score despite having four power- play opportunities, including two in the third period.
Carter Hutton turned aside 20-of-22 shots for the Predators to take a tough- luck loss.
"We've got to get some goals for our goaltender," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "Carter Hutton had a good game for us. We need some production from our forwards. We've got virtually zero. If our defense aren't scoring, we're not scoring it seems like."
Nashville lost forward Paul Gaustad to an upper-body injury on Wednesday and he expects to miss tonight's contest. Gaustad has nine goals and seven assists in 70 games this season.
The Preds recalled Calle Jarnkrok from the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL and the forward is set to make his NHL debut on Friday. Jarnkrok was acquired from Detroit before the trade deadline in the deal that sent David Legwand to the Red Wings. The 22-year-old Swede has compiled 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) in 62 total AHL games with Milwaukee and the Grand Rapids Griffins this season.
Nashville, which will complete its current swing this Sunday in Chicago, is 14-14-6 as the road team this season.
Although the Flames are headed for a fifth straight year out of the playoffs, the club has played solid hockey of late, picking up their third win in four games with Tuesday's home victory over Buffalo.
Mike Cammalleri and Paul Byron scored in the third period to help the Flames earn the 3-1 decision, while Calgary's Joni Ortio, in his eighth NHL start, outdueled Buffalo's Nathan Lieuwen. Ortio gave up one goal on four shots in the first period -- Drew Stafford's wraparound after a Calgary turnover behind the net -- and only needed to record 13 saves for the win.
Joe Colborne scored the other goal for the Flames in the second period.
"The boys regrouped between the first and second and we skated so much better. We saw our team working and making great plays," Flames head coach Bob Hartley said.
The win pushed Calgary's record on home ice this season to 16-16-3. The Flames will visit Edmonton on Saturday before returning to the Saddledome for a three-game homestand against San Jose, Anaheim and the New York Rangers.
03/21 10:50:44 ET