Surging Predators look to stay on roll vs. Flames

CALGARY, Alberta — While his former team in Ottawa struggles in his absence, Kyle Turris’ new squad has thrived with his presence.

The Nashville Predators, who reached the Stanley Cup Finals last year, look like a team that could be heading back to the Finals again in the spring of 2018. They are serious contenders at least.

A convincing 4-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday moved the Predators into the top spot in the Western Conference with a 20-7-4 record.

Turris, who was acquired from the Senators on Nov. 5, had a goal and an assist as the Predators won for the 15th time in their past 19 outings. Nashville visits Calgary on Saturday night.

“It’s been a lot of fun at the rink and on the ice,” the 28-year-old Turris told Postmedia. “Off the ice is where it’s been really crazy. Just trying to organize the move with my wife and three kids.

“Everything from vehicles to housing to (immigration) status. It’s been a crazy month.”

The Predators have won 12 of 16 games since the trade. When it was made, Turris signed a six-year, $36 million extension and he’s contributed three goals and 11 assists while playing with Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith.

“I’ve seen trades where it takes a little bit for a guy to find his footing,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette told Postmedia. “Sometimes it can take two weeks, it can take a month, it can take longer than that. Sometimes you make a trade like that (and) they never find their footing. He’s come in, and that line has just been terrific every night.

“I’m saying it, but you’re seeing. They’re dangerous, they’re fast and they’re skilled.”

The Predators took the day off in Calgary on Friday, leaving media to have to wait until Saturday to find out if Laviolette will stick with backup Juuse Saros in goal after he set a franchise record for saves (46) in a shutout in Edmonton. Or he can turn to No. 1 Pekka Rinne.

While the Predators have been consistently winning, their opponent on Saturday continues to search for consistency.

The Flames surrendered a late goal at home on Thursday and lost to the San Jose Sharks 3-2.

Calgary is 3-5-1 in December and 16-13-3 for the season. It is currently two points back of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The loss had Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan recalling a similar feeling after a home loss to Chicago in 2016-17.

“It’s 2-2 late and they take a shot late and it goes in and you get nothing,” Gulutzan said. “It stinks. You get nothing. We should have gotten points. It was a hard-fought game and they are a good team but we should have got points.”

Leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau struggled to come up with an answer as to what the Flames have to do to turn things around at home, where they are 8-9-0.

“Play like we do on the road I guess,” he shrugged. “Try not to get to fancy at home.”