Monday, January 24, 2011

Predators Burnt by the Flames 3-1

All good things come to an end, and tonight, the Nashville Predators three game winning streak came to an end against the Calgary Flames in a 3-1 loss at Calgary.

The Predators saw their potent penalty kill give up two power play goals and their effective offense rendered impotent by an aggressive Calgary defense that stymied the Predator's effort in the offensive zone all night.

Calgary opened the scoring at 10:14 of the first period on a fluke goal by Curtis Glencross. Glencross took a shot that was partially blocked by Shea Weber. The puck hit Weber's stick and fluttered into the air and over the shoulder of netminder Pekka Rinne, who lost sight of the puck when it went airborne.

Nashville would answer at 10:32 of the second period as David Legwand tapped home a rebound of a Colin Wilson shot. Joel Ward dug the puck out of the corner and sent a centering pass to Wilson. His backhand shot hit Mikka Kiprusoff and floated to the goal line at the side of the out of position goaltender. Legwand, driving the net, had an easy tap in for the tying goal.

Calgary took the lead at 13:01 on the first of their power play goals as Jerome Iginla was left alone at the side of the Predators net. He gathered in a rebound of a Matt Stajan shot and had an empty net to shoot the puck into as the defense lost coverage on Iginla.

Brenden Morrison would add another power play tally at 14:18 of the third period as he was alone at the side of the net (notice a common thread here) and took a nice pass from Alex Tanguay for a shot into a virtually open net.

I don't know if it was fatigue from playing the night before or the physical nature of the Calgary defense- probably a bit of both- as the Predators never really challenged Kiprusoff throughout the game. They had some pressure in the the third period, but frankly never skated well all night and didn't create enough traffic in front of Kiprusoff to create problems.

As Assistant Coach Brent Peterson said during an in game interview, the Predators are a good team when they are skating and moving their feet, and when they do not do that, they are a poor team. Tonight, they were a poor team.

No excuses, but the Predators iced a patchwork lineup as they were without the services of J.P. Dumont, who was slashed across the neck in last night's game in Edmonton. The loss of Dumont effectively takes away one of the Predators lines as his replacement, Wade Belak, skates limited minutes and does not present an offensive threat.

The Predators have a day to re-group and then face a stern test in Vancouver on Wednesday. Skate hard and play Predator hockey, and you will be fine. Play like tonight, and the game will be ugly.

My three stars:

1. Jerome Iginla

2. Matt Stajan

3. David Legwand

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