The Calgary Flames used two goals from Kristian Huselius and a three-point effort from Daymond Langkow to hand the Nashville Predators their third consecutive loss, 7-4, in front of 13,152 at the Sommet Center Saturday night. Now 2-3-0 on the young season, the Predators once again fell victim to untimely defensive-zone turnovers, leading 17 goals allowed in the three defeats.
“It is discipline – making the right plays and not flying the zone,” captain Jason Arnott said. “It is taking care of our own zone, and we have to get over it, and keep pounding it in our heads until it sinks in. It isn’t just one guy, it is everyone and the only way we will get out of it is if we do it as a team.”
For the Flames, it was their first victory in the Sommet Center since Dec. 17, 2002, a span of eight games.
The majority of the opening period served as a feeling-out period for the two squads – Calgary, having played the night before, was content to pick its spots, while Nashville, cognizant of its defensive-zone breakdowns against Phoenix 48 hours ago, also played a conservative style.
But, for the third consecutive game, the Predators surrendered the first goal of the game, this time while skating a man down at 12:25. Langkow was left open in front, to deflect defenseman Adrian Aucoin’s point shot.
Vernon Fiddler stands outside the crease as Flames d-man Dion Phaneuf defends Miikka Kiprusoff.
The Preds answered when Alexander Radulov proved that good things happen when you go to the net, claiming his first tally of the season on the power play at 18:57. Nashville was able to spread the penalty killers out with quick passes around the perimeter, enabling David Legwand to connect with Dan Hamhuis with a cross-ice pass. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped a heavy one-timer by Hamhuis, but Radulov was slashing in to collect the rebound and put it past the Flames netminder.
For Hamhuis, the assist gives him points in all five games the team has played and puts him in position to remain among the league leaders in points among defensemen with six (1g-5a). As for Radulov, the goal gave him the team’s second-longest point streak – at least one in three games (1g-2a).
Aucoin set up another goal at 3:26 of the second, this to put Calgary back in front, 2-1. This time, he combined with Jarome Iginla, to set up Craig Conroy for his first goal of the season. A defensive-zone breakdown enabled the Flames to go up by two goals just three minutes and change later when Huselius got by Marek Zidlicky, then put a top-shelf shot by Mason.
“You can point to almost every goal we are throwing home run passes that are getting picked off and lead to our goalies getting faced with two or three breakaways,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “We have to go right back to basics and we will do it tomorrow.
Radek Bonk picked up where he left off Thursday night to pull the Preds within one goal at 9:54 of the second. Maintaining position of the puck with a delayed penalty coming to Calgary, Jordin Tootoo out-muscled a defender in the corner then fed Bonk, whose perfectly-placed shot from the top of the face-off circle beat Kiprusoff high glove side.
Just when the Predators seemed to be taking control of the game – immediately going on the power play twice in less than three minutes following the goal, the Flames burst their bubble, receiving a shorthanded goal from Matthew Lombardi at 13:27.
“It has been the same thing the past two games, we dig ourselves a hole, we fight back, and then someone makes a poor decision and it ends up in the back of our net,” Trotz said.
Jason Arnott works against Adrian Aucoin.
It was a game-saving save by Mason on a Stephane Yelle on a breakaway at 16:13 that allowed Nashville to pull back within one as time ran down in the second period. Fifty-four seconds after the clutch stop, Jason Arnott took a centering pass from J.P. Dumont and found twine with a one-timer. Line mate Vernon Fiddler proved an effective diversion by taking a defender and crashing the crease.
The 71-19-38 line struck again with just 16 ticks left in the second to knot the game a four, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Dumont was the goal scorer this time, getting the second deflection on a point shot from Arnott. Martin Gelinas initially redirected the shot to claim his first assist as a Predator.
The Flames put an end to the see-saw battle with their fifth goal at 4:04 of the third. The go-ahead tally came from enforcer Eric Godard’s stick, when he finished a centering feed from Yelle at the top of goaltender Chris Mason’s crease. Calgary went up 6-4 at 7:37 on Iginla’s second marker of the contest. This time, the former Rocket Richard Trophy winner blasted a slap shot from the right face-off circle that muscled its way over the goal line, sending Mason to the bench, and making way for Dan Ellis to appear in his second game in a Predator uniform.
Mason finished the night with 17 saves on 23 shots, while Ellis stopped six-of-seven shots in relief.
Calgary inserted the final dagger at 16:16 of the third on Huselius’ second of the evening. The goal to make it 7-4 was another slap shot from the top of the circle with no traffic in front that willed its way through the Nashville goalie.
“We have to get back to playing as a team,” Mason said. “I have to make saves for this team because how I am playing is unacceptable. We have to get back to playing simple and not get too ahead of ourselves. After two easy wins, we let our guard down, and maybe this will be the right wakeup call.”
The Predators were outshot for the fourth time in five contests, 30-25, but notched a man-advantage goal for the second consecutive contest, finishing the night 1-for-4.
“It is going to take commitment from everybody to turn it around,” defenseman Greg Zanon said. “It is just a matter of everyone getting the right mindset and I think we will be able to turn this around heading into this long road trip.”
Next up for the Predators is a three-game California road trip which starts Wednesday, Oct. 17 when they pay the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks a visit. The game starts at 9 p.m. CT, and will be televised on FSN South.
Game Notes: Nashville scratched Scott Nichol from tonight’s contest, while the Flames sat Wayne Primeau, David Hale and Curtis McElhinney….Radek Bonk’s second period goal gives him three tallies in two games… Jason Arnott is now in sole possession of the team points lead with seven (3g-4a), while defenseman Dan Hamhuis sits second with six (1g-5a)… All five of the Preds games have been decided by 3 or more goals… It was also the first time Calgary has won back-to-back games over the Preds since Dec. 7, 2000 and Jan. 11 2001...Arnott has points in four of five games this season, notching his second multi-point contest (1g-1a) tonight…Vernon Fiddler claimed his first multi-point game of the season with assists on both Bonk’s goal and Arnott’s marker.
1 - 0 CGY
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