Flames 1, Predators 0
CALGARY, Alberta (AP)
Derek Smith scored his first NHL goal, and veteran Miikka Kiprusoff made it stand for his first shutout of the season.
''I think we played pretty smart. They only had one or two very good chances,'' said Kiprusoff, who earned his 41st career shutout.
Kiprusoff's busiest stretch came with under five minutes remaining when Nashville managed five shots on a late power play. However, Kiprusoff stopped them all.
''We have to get a little more greasy in these one-puck games where it's 1-0,'' Predators coach Barry Trotz said. ''You've got to get to the blue paint, get that mental drive and see if you can find a loose puck and put pucks in there. We need to get a little more of a shoot-first mentality.''
Smith scored the game's only goal with 1:10 left in the first period. Rookie defenseman T.J. Brodie skated in from the point and sent a perfect pass through the slot to Smith, who neatly steered the puck behind goaltender Pekka Rinne.
''It was unbelievable, it's been a long time coming,'' said Smith, who was playing in his 28th career NHL game. ''Brods made a great play, and I was lucky enough to be on the other end of it.''
Calgary couldn't get anything past Rinne in the teams' last meeting, here on Oct. 22. The 6-foot-5 Rinne stopped all 33 shots he faced in Nashville's 2-0 victory. This time, his 28 saves weren't good enough.
''We seem to play a lot of low-scoring games against Calgary,'' Rinne said. ''It was a tight checking game all the way through. Kiprusoff played well and they played well defensively.''
The Flames have won consecutive games for only the second time this season, and next face last-place Columbus at home on Thursday night.
Nashville dropped to 1-3-0 on a five-game road trip which concludes Thursday at Vancouver.
Smith, 27, was signed by Calgary on July 13 as a free agent after four seasons in the Ottawa organization. He spent most of his time with Binghamton of the AHL, where he had 10 goals and a career-best 44 assists in 71 games last season.
While the 6-1 defenseman has shown glimpses of his offensive upside at the NHL level, he entered the night just two assists in 25 career NHL games - including one in 16 this season.
At the time of the goal, Smith and Brodie - with 40 career NHL games between them - made up half of the Flames' defensemen with Scott Hannan and Jay Bouwmeester the other two.
The shortage on the blue line was the result of two defenders going down with injuries in separate incidents just minutes earlier.
Assistant captain Mark Giordano took a wrist shot from Matt Halischuk off the ankle and had to be helped off the ice. Then, Chris Butler had a Nashville shot deflect up sharply into his face, sending him immediately to the locker room.
Butler was back on the bench to start the second period but Giordano did not return due to a lower body injury.
''Everybody's got to step up when you get down to four or five `D', you play smart, use the first option,'' Smith said.
Kiprusoff's best stop of the night came 5 minutes into the second period, when he slid across, jabbing out his right pad, to deny a dangerous chance off the stick of David Legwand, who was set up at the side of the net.
That save came immediately after a close call at the other end where Flames rookie center Roman Horak, looking for his first goal in 14 games, fired a shot that hit one goal post, caromed across the face of the net and squarely hit the other goal post, but stayed out.
Nashville went 0 for 3 on the power play, while the Flames were 0 for 2 and fell to a league-worst 2 for 44 with the man advantage at home.
NOTES: Kiprusoff got his 296th career win, moving him into a tie for 30th all-time with former Flames goalie Dan Bouchard. ... Giordano has played in 187 consecutive games and is one of only three Flames (Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester) who played in all 82 games the past two years and all 23 games so far this season. ... When the Predators' five-game road trip wraps up Thursday, they return home for 14 of their next 19 games. Their next multi-game road trip isn't until a three-game trip from Jan. 16-19.