The good news coming from Calgary’s 2-1 loss in Nashville on Tuesday saw the two teams equal their goal total from the prior two meetings combined. The bad news came from the fact the Flames saw their three game win streak come to an end, as Colin Wilson’s third period powerplay goal being the difference in a game that more than 80 shots fired between the two squads.
A fairly tepid first period from the visitors saw a couple highlight reel saves from Miikka Kiprusoff, who was key in making sure the Flames were within a goal when the buzzer went. Nashville’s first goal came at 11:43 of opening period, with Brian McGrattan putting the puck towards the net and Matt Halischuk being able to bat the puck out of mid-air and past Kiprusoff for his sixth of the season. Shots were 18-6 in favour of the Preds with scoring chances finishing 8-4.
Things turned rather noticeably in the second period, with the Flames ready to go to kick things off. Racking up a few scoring chances in the first six minutes or so, Calgary tied the game on a pretty goal from Curtis Glencross. He’d walk through the Nashville defense and backhand a shot upstairs for his ninth of the season at 6:12 and a 1-1 tie. But after a good start, things would start to tilt back Nashville’s way and shots would finish even at 17 with chances knotted at eight a piece.
After two unsuccessful power plays in the prior 40 minutes, Nashville would make good on their third early in the final frame. With Brendan Morrison off for interference, Colin Wilson would bury a rebound off a Craig Smith shot at 3:31, putting the Flames down a goal for the second time on the evening. They’d rack up some scoring chances down the stretch, but the Predators did what they do: protect leads in whatever fashion they can. Pekka Rinne made a few stops, the Flames put a few chances wide, and Nashville walked away with a hard earned 2-1 win.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? Overall, a fairly lukewarm effort against a beatable opponent. Allowing the offensively challenged Predators to fire 45 shots on you, generating 21 chances in the process, is not the effort Calgary needed to kick off a road trip. Kiprusoff had a very strong night making impressive saves on a number of ten bell opportunities but despite a few strong stretches of play, the Flames couldn’t help him out.
With an honorable mention going to Kipper, I’ve gotta give it to Matt Stajan. For the most part, the bottom six forwards carried their weight while the likes of Iginla, Glencross, and Morrison got crushed playing against the higher end Nashville forwards. Stajan was on the ice for six even strength scoring chances and he helped drive his line with Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos, and looked just fine when he was moved up the pecking order. Likely his best game of the season.
Sum It Up
It wasn’t a terrible effort for Calgary, but against a beatable team you’re chasing in the Western Conference standings, you need a better showing than the one we saw Tuesday. Allowing the more potent Lightning 43 shots on Thursday night wouldn’t be advisable, so I can’t imagine the Flames are overly happy with what happened in Nashville, regardless of how close the score was.