The Calgary Flames appear to be playing the best hockey of their season as they out-muscled the Nashville Predators in a 3-1 win at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday night.
Led by power-play goals by Jerome Iginla and Brendan Morrison and an even strength goal by Curtis Glencross, the Flames dominated the Predators as they cruised to their third win in a row over the best teams in the Western Conference. The Predators lone goal came from David Legwand.
Miikka Kiprusoff probably wishes that he played the Preds every night as he won in an overtime shutout in their first meeting this year and stopped 23 of 24 Nashville shots on Monday.
Pekka Rinne allowed three goals on 27 Flames shots and all three tallies were due to rebounds or deflections that left him with no chance to stop the secondary shots.
The game started with both teams wanting to establish the neutral zone early and the Flames did a much more effective job slowing the Predator attack and beating them on the boards.
Calgary got on the board first at 10:14 on a freak play that was payback from the hockey gods for the Pekka-less stick save in Edmonton on Sunday. Glencross shot the puck and it bounced up off Shea Weber's shin guard and floated over Rinne into the crease where even a diving Chris Meuller couldn't stop it.
In the opening stanza, Calgary out shot the Predators 8-6 and led the Corsi 22-14. Both teams had a pair of penalties that resulted in five of the Preds shots and four of Calgary's.
The second period produced more penalties on both side with the Preds picking up three and the Flames having two. The Predators got on the board with their only goal at 10:32 when Kiprusoff tried to dump the puck into the right corner. Joel Ward grabbed it and sent it to Colin Wilson who shot it at the net and Legwand finished it off to tie the game 1-1.
After a high-sticking penalty on Ward, the Flames got a power-play goal at 13:01 to take the lead 2-1. Matt Stajan picked up his second assist of the evening when he shot at the net and Rinne did not control the puck and it went to Iginla who had a shot at the empty side of the net.
For the period, the Flames were in full control, outshooting the Preds 14-7 and dominating the Corsi 24-9. The Predators continued to be out-worked and struggled moving the puck in the neutral zone.
The Predators showed more life in the third than they had earlier in the game. Jerred Smithson was called for hooking to give the Flames their sixth man-advantage of the evening and Morrison made the most of it by putting the Flames ahead 3-1 with 5:42 left in the contest.
In the final period the Preds out shot the Flames 11-5 and doubled Calgary in the Corsi 22-11. Unfortunately, for the Predators it was too little too late.
Calgary potentially could jump from 14th to 11th with the win, depending on how games on the West coast ended. The Predators remained in fourth place with 60 points.
The Preds are 3-2 on the current road trip and looked like they were in need of some post All-Star game home cooking when they will play 21 of 32 games at the Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators headed for Vancouver after the game where they will face the Canucks on Wednesday before breaking for the All-Star weekend.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass