Predators hold off Flames 6-5
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) The Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames provided an unexpected offensive showcase on Friday night.
Shea Weber scored twice, including the go-ahead goal late in the third period and the Predators escaped with a 6-5 victory over the Calgary Flames.
Tied 4-4 and with the Predators on the power play, Weber took a perfect pass from Matt Cullen and fired a slap shot past Joey MacDonald from the faceoff dot to put Nashville back into the lead at 14:28.
On a night that featured ugly plays defensively from both sides, even the go-ahead goal was no thing of beauty either, Weber said.
”I missed it,” the Predators’ star defenseman said. ”I was trying to go up with it to be honest with you and it kind of went off the heel of my stick and I got lucky.”
Weber’s 18th goal tied him with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson for second in the NHL among defensemen, one back of Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien.
”We didn’t expect that coming in. We thought it was going to be a tight-checking, low-scoring game,” Weber said. ”Obviously it’s huge to get that many goals. Hopefully, that can loosen guys up a bit.”
Cullen added his seventh goal of the season at 17:08 on a deflection. That would turn out to be the winning goal after Mike Cammalleri’s second of the game from a scramble 28 seconds later set up a furious final 2 1/2 minutes for the Flames, who buzzed around the Predators net, but couldn’t tie it against backup goaltender Carter Hutton.
”It’s weird how games sometimes trend like that. When it opens up, it opens up,” said Hutton, who came in for starter Pekka Rinne after Mikael Backlund tied it 4-4 on the Flames’ 18th shot at 13:31 of the second.
”The fifth one wasn’t the best goal I’ve ever given up but it squeaks in,” Hutton said. ”The crowd starts getting into it, but we’ve still got the one-goal lead. You’ve got to stay focused and my mindset doesn’t change.”
Victor Bartley, Patric Hornqvist and Viktor Stalberg also scored for Nashville, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Twenty-two-year-old center Calle Jarnkrok had an assist in his NHL debut.
Kris Russell and Jiri Hudler rounded out the scoring for Calgary, which lost for only the third time in its past dozen games at the Saddledome.
”Pretty simple – no defense,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. ”I’m not pointing at our goalie or our defensemen, by any means. I’m talking about our team game.”
Down 2-0 early, the Flames fought back to tie it 3-3 before falling behind 4-3. They came from behind one more time to even it 4-4 headed to the third.
”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,” Hartley said.
After the game, the Flames announced that Joni Ortio, who started but was pulled after allowing four goals on 13 shots, was being returned to Abbotsford in the American Hockey League now that Karri Ramo (knee) is ready to return to the lineup for Saturday’s game in Edmonton.
Hartley was quick to absolve Ortio from blame for the defeat.
”It was not an easy night for him but the way we executed in the first period,” Hartley said. ”Us, as a team, we put our goalie in that situation. I don’t think we can blame Joni Ortio by any means for this loss. That was a team loss and we’re much better than what we showed tonight.”
Leading 2-1 after the first period, Nashville increased its margin to two when Hornqvist batted in a centering pass out of the air.
It was the first of five goals in a wide-open, back and forth and middle period.
Cammalleri drew the Flames within one at 6:23 and 51 seconds later, Hudler tipped in Mark Giordano’s snap shot from the blue line to tie it 3-3.
”That was an old-school game, I guess. It was back and forth. We did a lot of great things and had a lot of good spurts, especially offensively, but we gave way too many chances off the rush,” said Giordano, who had two assists and leads all NHL defensemen with 13 points in March.
March has also been good for Cammalleri, who is tied with Jarome Iginla and Jonathan Toews for the most goals in the month with nine.
”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.”
Hutton stopped 10 of 11 shots to earn the victory and improve to 16-11-4.
MacDonald was tagged with the loss to fall to 4-4-1. He had seven saves on nine shots in relief.
Nashville got off to a fast start, beating Ortio on both of its first two shots in the opening period.
At 5:10, Bartley scored his first NHL goal, one-timing a slap shot through Ortio’s pads. Just 49 seconds later, Weber finished off a give-and-go with Mike Fisher on an odd-man rush.
Notes: Kenny Agostino made his NHL debut for the Flames. He played left wing on a line with rookies Sean Monahan and Joe Colborne. Agostino’s parents flew in from New Jersey for the game. … Calgary RW Jiri Hudler (upper body) returned after missing seven games. … Sidelined with upper body injuries sustained in Nashville’s last game were LW Nick Spaling, RW Patrick Eaves and C Paul Gaustad. … Agostino is the eighth player to make his NHL debut with the Flames this season.