Tuesday night’s game against the Calgary Flames was the last of a five-game home-stand for the Nashville Predators, who were looking to end it on a high note. In the last six home contests against the Flames, the Predators had been able to garner points out of each, going 4-0-2. After a slow first 40 minutes to the game, Nashville lit the lamp three times in the third en route to a 4-2 victory over Calgary.
The first period started off fairly slow for each team, both playing without much energy. At 15:27 Eric Nystrom drew an interference penalty on Matt Stajan, but Nashville could not generate many opportunities on the power play. Following the power play, the Predators were able to continue on with a strong forecheck, garnering some shots, but none were able to beat Flames goaltender Karri Ramo.
Stajan took another interference penalty at 14:33, putting Nashville on the power play. During this attempt, the plan for the Predators was obvious: give it to Shea Weber. This plan worked as Weber released a one-timer bomb from the point after receiving the puck from Roman Josi (via David Legwand) for his 11th of the season. Nashville defenseman Roman Josi speaks about the power play getting back on track below.
“One thing I liked about today was we forced them into penalties,” said head coach Barry Trotz on the team being able to put themselves on the power play. “We created some turnovers, got on the inside position, and made them reach out and grab us; that was a really good job by us.”
Following a tremendous save by Nashville’s Carter Hutton, the Flames were able to even up the game at one each with a goal from Lee Stempniak. Stempniak scored his seventh of the season by taking a centering feed from Jiri Hudler at 18:56. With the score even at one, the Predators went into the the first intermission leading in shots 15-10.
Coming into the second period, both teams seemed very lethargic, as neither could generate many quality scoring opportunities. Nashville was racking up the shots, but none were getting past Ramo. The Predators were put on the power play again after a Dennis Wideman holding penalty early in the period, but it was easily killed by the the Flames.
Near the midway point of the second, Mike Fisher took a tripping penalty, but Nashville was able to fight off the Flames. At the end of the second, the game was still tied 1-1, but Nashville was ahead in shots 25-18.
If fans were not back to their seats by the beginning of the third period, they missed some incredible action. Just 55 seconds into the third period, Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis did a wonderful job at being patient while entering the zone and skating between the top of the face off circles before ripping a slapshot past Ramo.
“Our forwards did a good job driving the net, which as a D, I know it’s tough to get up there and hold off because there’s always going to be a guy behind you if he’s due,” said Ryan Ellis on his goal. “I just pumped once and got it off and luckily it went in.”
“The kid’s been great,” spoke Craig Smith about Ellis’ play of late. “He’s got a great shot and he was obviously using it a lot today. He has done a good job of getting himself open around defenders and getting it to the hole.”
Just 22 seconds after Ellis’ goal, Paul Byron is called for tripping and the Predators were on the power play again. At 2:40, while still on the power play, Seth Jones fires a shot toward the net and Ramo makes the initial save. With Nick Spaling creating havoc in front of Ramo, Craig Smith picks up the rebound and puts in his team-leading 14th goal of the season.
Now with a 3-1 lead, the Predators had to kill off a Calgary power play while Weber was in the box for tripping TJ Brodie at 3:52. A slightly controversial play occurred at 4:17 as the puck was touched by Mark Giordano with a high stick, before being shot into the net, resulting in the goal being waved off. With 1:01 left on the power play, the Flames then called a time out to settle themselves down, but the Predators were still able to kill off the penalty.
With 15 minutes still left to play, Nashville was dominating in the shots category 31-20 and shooting the puck when the opportunity arose was something they tried to focus on.
“I think it’s a big point of emphasis every game,” said Craig Smith on the team racking up shots. “I don’t think that today we were walking around, saying ‘shoot the puck, shoot the puck,’ but if you have an open chance to take it, take it. If you don’t take it, you’re not going to score. It’s as simple as that.”
Midway through the third, the Predators put what they hoped would be the nail in the coffin, as well as the Frosty goal when Viktor Stalberg tipped in another Ryan Ellis bomb from the point at 10:52, making it 4-1.
“I have to give Calgary some credit; they hung around and they were a hard kill but in the third period we got those quick goals, and the puck started to find the back of the net finally,” said Trotz on being able to take control in the third.
Calgary tried to mount a comeback attempt when Mikael Backlund scored at 13:07 making it 4-2, but the Predators took their timeout at 13:51 to slow the game down and regain some composure. This seemed to work as Nashville then pushed back on the Flames. Even with an empty net, Calgary was not able to come any closer, giving the Predators the 4-2 victory and their seventh straight home game against the Flames where they earned points.
Of note in this game:
- David Legwand notched three assists Tuesday night, putting him at 31 points on the season
- With Shea Weber’s goal, he now stands at 30 points for the season
- Paul Gaustad went 15 for 23 (65%) in face-offs Tuesday night
Video below is of Barry Trotz’s post game press conference: