Saturday, March 22, 2014
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Predators edge Flames in offensive explosion

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[March 22, 2014]  CALGARY, Alberta  The Nashville Predators arrived in Calgary with just two goals to show for their past three games.

They scored a half-dozen Friday at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and needed all of them to win a 6-5 thriller against the Calgary Flames.

Predators captain Shea Weber scored twice to lead the charge, while center Matt Cullen had a goal and three assists and right winger Patric Hornqvist had a goal and two helpers.

"Without a doubt, we'll take that many goals. But at the same time, we left our goaltenders out to dry," Weber said. "Obviously it's huge to get that many goals. Hopefully, that can loosen guys up a bit and make that transition that much easier, but hopefully we're back to our same way of playing better defensively and keep up the good offence, as well."

The Flames and Predators are two of NHL's lowest-scoring squads, but you couldn't tell Friday, when they combined for 11 goals on 51 shots.

"You probably wouldn't expect going into tonight there would be 11 goals scored," Cullen said. "Both teams played hard and both teams have a lot of pride. It was an entertaining game. It was up and down. It's probably not the way either team would've drawn it up or preferred it to go, but it's nice to see us get a few pucks in the back of the net. It was good for us. We've struggled here a bit as of late."

Defensemen Victor Bartley and left winger Viktor Stalberg also scored for the Predators (30-31-10) in Friday's win.

The Flames (28-35-7) got a pair of goals and an assist from left winger Michael Cammalleri, while defensemen Kris Russell also had a three-point effort, including his first goal since early December. Right winger Jiri Hudler and center Mikael Backlund also lit the lamp for the hosts.

"I thought we almost had one at the end there, too. It would have been nice," Cammalleri said. "You can't expect to win games when you give up six, for sure. One thing we're proud of, especially in the last little while, is not giving up as many chances. Tonight, we would like to do a better job of that."

The Flames seemed to have the early momentum, but that all changed in a 49-second span.

At the 5:10 mark of the first period, Bartley blasted a slap shot through the five-hole of Flames rookie goalie Joni Ortio for the first goal of his NHL career. It also happened to be Nashville's first shot of the night.

Less than a minute later and on the Predators' second attempt, Weber capitalized on a pass from center Mike Fisher, sliding into the crease as his shot found the back of the net.

Russell got one back for the Flames just 34 seconds before the first intermission, scoring on a shot from the blueline while Predators center Colin Wilson was serving a holding-the-stick penalty.

The teams traded goals in a wild span of less than four minutes in the middle period.

Hornqvist extended Nashville's lead at the 4:10 mark, reaching to tap a pass from defenseman Michael Del Zotto past Ortio on an odd-man rush.

Cammalleri scored on a one-timer at 6:23, extending his point streak to six games and giving Russell a two-point night with the assist.

Just 49 seconds after that, Hudler got the puck past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne to tie it up at 3.

Stalberg scored on his own rebound at 8:10, with Ortio headed to the bench and backup goalie Joey MacDonald making a relief appearance.

Rinne's night was over soon after. The Predators netminder made a mistake handling the puck and Flames left winger Lance Bouma set up Backlund for the tying goal. Rinne was replaced by Carter Hutton.

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Weber gave the Predators the lead with a booming slap shot on the power play at 14:28 of the third period, taking advantage while Flames left winger Curtis Glencross served a hooking penalty.

Cullen provided a bit of insurance with a re-direction of a shot by defenseman Roman Josi to make it 6-4, but Cammalleri scored his second of the night at 17:36.

The Flames generated some chances late but could not find the equalizer. The late flurry was not enough to satisfy coach Bob Hartley, who had a simple explanation for what went wrong.

"No defense," Hartley said. "And I'm not pointing at our goalie or our defensemen. I'm talking about our team game.

"We worked very hard to come back a few times in the game, but the way that we were committed defensively tonight, I don't think we had a chance."

Ortio finished with four goals allowed on 13 shots, while MacDonald surrendered two on nine shots.

Rinne got the hook after giving up four on 18 shots, and Hutton was beaten just once on 11 shots.

The Flames are back in action Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. The Predators are headed to the Windy City for Sunday's meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks.

NOTES: After Friday's game, the Flames assigned G Joni Ortio to the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League. Flames G Karri Ramo, who has been out since Feb. 1 due to a knee injury, will be back for Saturday's road game ... Flames LW Kenny Agostino made his NHL debut for Calgary. The 21-year-old Agostino was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins organization as part of the return for longtime captain Jarome Iginla last March and signed a two-year, entry-level contract earlier this week after completing his senior season with the Yale Bulldogs. ... It was also a special night for Predators C Calle Jarnkrok, who was skating in his first NHL game. Jarnkrok was acquired in the deal that sent Nashville's longest-tenured player, C David Legwand, to the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL trade deadline. The 22-year-old had five goals and two assists in five games for the Predators' affiliate in Milwaukee before being recalled. ... The Predators were missing three forwards who suffered upper-body injuries in Thursday's loss in Vancouver  RW Patrick Eaves, C Paul Gaustad and C Nick Spaling ... Flames RW Jiri Hudler returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a lower-body injury.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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