The Nashville Predators continued their western Canada with a tilt against the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome. The Predators had recently halted a 4 game losing skid with a win the previous night in Edmonton, while the Flames were looking to get their game back on track, having just one win in their last five games.
The Predators had Pekka Rinne in net, while the Flames opened with their workhorse Mikka Kiprusoff.
After an up and down first period, the Flames drew first blood at 18:49 as a shot from the point by T. J. Brodie was deflected past Rinne by Derek Smith. Smith was driving the net and beat Craig Smith coming back for the Predators . Rinne had no chance on the re-direct and the Flames took a 1-0 lead through hustle and driving to the net..
For the period, the Predators out shot the Flames 9-7, but once again found themselves trailing at the end of 20 minutes.
Blake Comeau was called for high sticking Jordin Tootoo with 20 seconds remaining in the period, so the Predators would open the second with 1:40 of power play time.
The second period saw both teams do a lot of skating, each get a few scoring chances, but neither team able to score. The closest chance came from the Flames when Roman Horak rattled the puck off both posts but did not cross the goal line.
Very troublesome for the Predators was the fact that they passed up several shots in favor of a pass. In last night's victory, the Predators shot the puck- often- and created chances. Tonight, the shots were not as abundant, and as a result, Kiprusoff was not challenged nearly enough by the Predators in the first 40 minutes.Nashville manage only 6 shots in the second period, a painful reversion to their old habit of not shooting the puck nearly enough.
It was now coming down to the final 20 minutes of play for the Predators. Key to their effort was going to be first and foremost getting pucks on net.
Remember, I said the key to winning this game was getting pucks on net.
Well... through 11 minutes of the third period, the Predators had managed only 4- count 'em, 4- shots on net.
Not exactly a winning formula.
How bad was it?
The Predators had a power play and managed no shots on goal.
Here is the truth. The Predators offense was generally impotent tonight. The good work habits and effort of the previous night were not evident in this game tonight. The Predators managed 10 shots on goal in the third period- 25 for the game- and none really challenged Kiprusoff.
The Predators executed their style of play the night before. Tonight, they did not. And it cost them a win.
Up and down. Inconsistent.
This has been the style of play for the Predators this season. It is a sign of a team that has not grown into their role and become the type of team of which they are capable of becoming.
Without a doubt.
And it will continue to be so until this team grows up.
My three stars:
1. Derek Smith
2. Mikka Kiprusoff
3. Pekka Rinne