National Hockey League
Predators-Flames Preview
National Hockey League

Predators-Flames Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 1:57 a.m. ET

The Nashville Predators have built a sizable lead in the Western Conference wild-card race during a franchise-record point streak that they haven't had any trouble extending to start their trip.

Plenty of teams have departed Calgary with a victory lately, and Nashville can match the club record with a seventh straight road victory by beating the struggling Flames on Wednesday night.

The Predators (34-21-12) have gone 9-0-4 since a regulation loss to Washington on Feb. 9, building an eight-point lead over Minnesota and Colorado for the West's first wild card in the process.

They beat the Avalanche 5-2 on Saturday to begin a five-game trip and defeated Winnipeg 4-2 on Tuesday despite going 0 for 9 on the power play in those contests.


Craig Smith had two goals against the Jets to give him five with five assists during a five-game point streak, and Ryan Johansen snapped a 14-game goal drought.

Colton Sissons, recalled from the AHL on Monday to replace the injured Paul Gaustad for at least the rest of the trip, had a goal and an assist in his first NHL game since Dec. 26. His goal broke a first-period tie as the Predators moved to the verge of matching the team-record road winning streak set Oct. 16-Nov. 4, 2006.

"I think the past month and a half, two months, everybody has settled into where they're going to be," Smith said. "That only helps in games where you need goals, can rely on each other and be predictable."

The Predators snapped a four-game losing streak in the series by winning 2-1 at Calgary on Jan. 27 with help from a power-play goal by Shea Weber, who has two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak that has come after he missed three straight with a lower-body injury.

The Flames (27-34-5) have dropped into a tie for last in the West with Edmonton and Winnipeg while going 2-9-2 since Feb. 12, a stretch that includes dropping five of six at home. Joe Colborne's goal with 1:22 remaining in the third period tied visiting San Jose on Monday, but the Sharks scored 19 seconds into overtime for a 2-1 win.

"We're a young team and sometimes it doesn't always go our way, but the one thing that we have to respect from our team is the effort," coach Bob Hartley said. "The commitment to leave everything on the ice, to play with energy, to play with passion - we're getting this and that's step one in the right direction."

Veteran center Mikael Backlund had scored in two straight before being held without a point against the Sharks. He has eight goals and 12 assists over his last 16.

"He's been maybe our best player in the last month or two," Colborne told the team's official website. "Playing with him ... it's a treat. He's so smart with the puck and so responsible. If you have the puck, he's somewhere close by to give you an outlet."

Joni Ortio has gone 1-6-3 with a 3.04 goals-against average in eight starts and three relief efforts, but has a .924 save percentage over the last three. He'll get the start against the Predators, who could go with Carter Hutton after Pekka Rinne made 21 saves Tuesday.

Hutton has a 2.16 GAA in 11 starts, the last of which came when he made 25 saves in a win over Toronto on Feb. 23. He stopped 26 shots to beat Calgary in January.


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