Predators topple Flames 5-3

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Since losing 5-0 to Calgary at home on Nov. 30, the Nashville Predators have been one of the best teams in the NHL.

With a 5-3 victory over the Flames on Saturday, the Predators avenged the loss to Calgary and improved to 7-1-2 since that setback – and 22-11-3 overall.

“Any time you get beat at home, especially the way we got beat, it sort of brings clarity into what you don’t want to do,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We sort of got our game back in order once that happened.”

After losing their last five games against the Flames dating to last season, the Predators had extra motivation.

“We wanted to prove that we could play against them,” defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. “I thought we played pretty well tonight. Our goaltending kept us in it at the end there. They had a lot of chances.”

In their past four games, all wins, the Predators have used a balanced scoring attack to score 23 goals.

Forwards Marcel Goc and Martin Erat led the way for Nashville on Saturday with a goal and two assists each, while defenseman Cory Franson scored the wining goal in the third period and added an assist. David Legwand and Dave Scatchard also scored, and Joel Ward had two assists.

“Early in the year, we tried to play way too perimeter, a little too cute,” Trotz said. “We got back to very basic hockey. Now it’s throw some pucks on the net and go to the hard areas and you get rewarded. That’s what most teams do in our league now.”

Jarome Iginla scored twice and set up another for the Flames (20-11-4) to break out of an eight-game goal drought. Dion Phaneuf also scored, and Olli Jokinen had two assists.

“It was a game that we definitely feel we should have gotten two points out of,” said Iginla, whose two second-period goals gave the Flames a 3-2 lead. “We’ve got ourselves in a bit of a rut where in third periods we’re not closing it out and finding ways to get points out of it and wins.”

Calgary coach Brent Sutter was pleased that the Flames rebounded from an early 2-0 deficit, but upset his squad couldn’t defend the lead.

“It’s a disappointing loss,” Sutter said. “You’re up 3-2 at home, you’ve got to win, bottom line. We played a team here that’s been playing some pretty good hockey. We had an opportunity to win tonight and we let it get by us because of some mistakes. We made some turnovers that you can’t make.”

Nashville goalie Dan Ellis stopped 29 shots for his third win in a row. At the other end, Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff didn’t have one of his better games of the season as he surrendered four goals on 19 shots.

NOTES: Calgary defenseman Robyn Regehr played his 700th NHL game, all with the Flames. … The Predators are 19-18-6 overall against the Flames.

Updated December 19, 2009