NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, December 19th
(All times eastern)
Nashville Predators (21-11-3) at Calgary Flames (20-10-4), 4 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Although the Nashville Predators have met just about every
challenge thrown their way over the past month, they've still found the going
to be quite tough against the Calgary Flames.
Calgary will be seeking its sixth straight win in this series when the red-hot
Predators continue their current road trip with a stop at the Pengrowth
Saddledome this afternoon.
Nashville enters today's test having won three straight games and five of
its last six contests, mostly due in part to an offense that's been
practically unstoppable as of late. The Predators kicked off this three-game
tour through western Canada with a 6-3 victory Thursday at Edmonton, two days
after the club recorded a season-high for goals in a 7-4 pasting of Tampa Bay.
The Preds have scored four or more goals in each of their last six wins and
improved to 14-3-2 since November 12 with Thursday's verdict.
Nashville overcame a shaky set by goaltender Pekka Rinne, who was pulled after
allowing two Edmonton goals in the first 5:01 of the game. However, Ryan
Jones, Joel Ward and Marcel Goc all scored later in the frame to put the
Predators in front, and Patric Hornqvist tallied twice in the second period to
extend the lead.
"We came out of the blocks extremely slow," said forward Jerred Smithson, who
knocked in Nashville's final goal of the night. "We really didn't give Pekka
much help there and they scored two quick ones. We had the goalie change and
had the timeout, and just kind of straightened things out and came out with
some jump after that."
Dan Ellis relieved Rinne and stopped 21-of-22 shots to register the win.
Jones has now netted a goal in four straight games, while Hornqvist has
notched four markers and six points over Nashville's last three outings.
Veteran wing Martin Erat, who had an assist on Thursday, has produced 12
points (7 goals, 5 assists) in nine December games.
Calgary has had a more difficult time putting the puck in the net recently, as
has captain Jarome Iginla. The two-time 50-goal scorer hasn't lit the lamp in
eight straight games and has just one goal over his last 12 matchups.
Iginla did deliver an assist in Thursday's game against Los Angeles, while
Miikka Kiprusoff turned aside 34-of-35 shots to lead the Flames to a 2-1
decision that ended the team's three-game losing streak.
"If not for Kiprusoff, in my mind, we end up winning the game," said Kings
head coach Terry Murray.
Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf ended a 20-game goalless drought with a power-
play tally in the first period, while Nigel Dawes added the eventual game-
winner with just over a minute elapsed in the third.
The victory, which came in the opener of a four-game homestand, moved Calgary
into a first-place tie with Colorado in the Northwest Division.
Kiprusoff was also on top of his game in a 5-0 rout of the Predators on
November 30 in the Music City, which was also the site of Iginla's last goal.
Calgary swept its four-game season series with Nashville in 2008-09 and has
topped the Preds in four of the last five meetings between the teams held at
12/19 10:30:34 ET