The Calgary Flames swept their season series with the Nashville Predators, handing them another frustrating one goal loss in a 3-2 home ice victory. This was a game that started well for the Predators and quickly fell apart.
The Predators opened the scoring at 2:47 of the first period as Marty Erat gathered in a rebound of a Jonathan Blum shot and powered the puck past Mikka Kiprusoff as he was being knocked to the ice. Blum did a great job of getting the shot through traffic and Erat was doing the dirty work in front of the net that the Predators have to do to score.
Calgary would tie the game at 7:15 of the first while on the power play with Jonathan Blum in the box for tripping. It was one of the craziest goals that I have ever seen, as the shot from Mark Giordano was weakly shot toward the net. The fluttering puck would hit the stick of Ryan Suter and then Shea Weber, changing direction and floating over the shoulder of Pekka Rinne. Rinne looked at his two defensemen with a look that could only be described as exasperated.
The Predators would regain the lead at 15:58 of the first as Ryan Suter fired a shot from straight away on the point. Joel Ward and David Legwand were screening in front and Kiprusoff never saw the puck until it was in the back of the net.
As the first period ended, the Predators had to feel good about their effort against a team that has been their nemesis all season.
Perhaps they felt too good.
The Predators were absolutely dominated in the second period as the Flames outshot the Predators 13-4. The Flames would tie the game early in the second as Sergei Kostitsyn would hook down Jerome Iginla on a breakaway. Iginla was awarded a penalty shot and he would beat Rinne five hole just 59 seconds into the period.
The Flames controlled the action for the entire period, and frankly if not for the stellar play of Rinne, the Predators would have been run out of the Saddledome. The Predators offense would completely disappear in the second in what has been a troubling characteristic of this team all season- disappearing for a period at a time in a game.
The troubling trend of a missing in action offense would continue for most of the third period. Although the final shot count was 14-10 for the Flames, for much of the period the Calgary offense controlled the play. The shot total only looks as good as it does because of a late flurry by the Predators.
Calgary's offensive pressure would pay off in the game winning goal by Curtis Glencross at 10:23 of the third period. Ollie Jokinenwould fire a shot a Rinne, who made the initial save, but gave up a rebound. Glencross was crashing the net unimpeded and tapped the puck into an open net past an out of position Rinne.
One felt that the way the Predators offense had failed to produce that this goal would suffice for the margin of victory.
Unfortunately, that proved to be the case.
For much of the night, the Predators found themselves on their heels and let Calgary gain the zone with speed. This forced the Predators back and they did not counterattack effectively. This team does not have the ability to just turn on the offensive flow, and when they are pushed back defensively, the offense seems to continually get stymied.
This was a wasted opportunity to gain two precious points, and opportunity squandered when the offense went into a shell in the second and third periods.
For this team to make the playoffs, they are going to have to understand that it is a full 60 minutes of flat out, balls to the wall hockey. Failure to play that way and they will find themselves on the short end of the score more often than not.
It is beyond waiting for other teams to falter. Now is the time to turn it on and play your way into the playoffs.
There is no other way.
My three stars:
1. Curtis Glencross
2. Ryan Suter
3. Mikka Kiprusoff