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Flames too hot to handle for Predators

(Photo by: Gerry Thomas/Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators lost to the Calgary Flames 6-3 Friday night, leaving the Predators without a point in the past two games. Scoring is no longer the entire issue for the Predators, but rather defense. “Right now defensively, weren’t not very good,” said Mike Fisher.

Not too many people would think the defense would be the issue under head coach Barry Trotz’s system, which poses a new mountain to climb for the club in a shortened season.

Giving up six goals tonight leaves the Predators allowing a total of thirteen goals in just two nights in Western Canada. It isn’t a pretty stat, but on the positive, the Preds have been able to score seven in the meantime. It all goes back to the lackluster performance by the defense.

Also, the Preds continue to start games slowly. It happened the night before by going down 4-1 and now Friday being down 3-0 early on. “We can’t keep on thinking we can come back from a lead like that,” said Fisher.

After a promising start to the game for the Predators, things turned south quickly after the fourth line’s first shift. The Flames started to pick up momentum because the Preds were making dumb mistakes.

6:20 in, Mark Giordano was able to get around Brandon Yip at the blueline and cut towards the slot. Giodano’s shot from the high circle went by Pekka Rinne to give the home team a 1-0 lead.

Not even two minutes later, Blake Comeau was able to capitalize on a tic-tac-toe play to extend the lead to 2-0. After the Comeau goal, Rinne was pulled just 8:00 in. He faced a total of two shots the entire night, and didn’t stop one.

Dennis Wideman took a puck to the face 6:43 remaining. David Legwand attempted to flutter the puck back into the zone, but ended up shooting the puck into the face of the Calgary defenseman. Wideman went down to the ice in pain, but quickly returned to his feet and went to the dressing room. He wasn’t wearing a visor. Luckily, he did return in time for the second period.

The rest of the first period ended with the defense making more mistakes by turning the puck over and not covering their man. However, forward Zack Boychuk thought the period was played better by the Preds after Calgary's second goal. “I thought it was a good period,” said Boychuk. “I thought we were exchanging chances both ways, but we couldn’t capitalize.” Boychuk continued saying, “Once Mason came in, we started playing a little better.”

Calgary continued to have it their way after the intermission by scoring a power play goal. Mike Cammalleri’s shot on net was deflected by a cutting Jiri Hudler, who scored to add insurance to their lead early on.

Gabriel Bourque was able to cut into the lead and end Miikka Kiprusoff’s shutout hopes less than two minutes later. The pesky forward deflected Shea Weber’s shot from the near circle past Kiprusoff.

The game slowly started tilting back Calgary’s way in the second, despite not being able to score another goal. Chris Mason was able to play hero and bail his teammates out with continuous, remarkable saves and great movement covering the net.

A third period owned by Curtis Glencross notched his team a victory by scoring three goals. His first came 1:14 in by luck as Lee Stemniak’s shot hit off the post and deflected off the shoulder of Glencross and in. Four minutes later, Stempniak throws the puck on net from the boards and is redirected in by Glencross cutting towards the net. To top off the win with a hat trick on cowboy hat night, Glencross scored an empty net goal from the defensive zone.

In the midst of the attack by Glencross and Stempniak, Mike Fisher and David Legwand also scored goals as well to keep the team and fans at least mildly interested. Fisher’s goal came at 3:15 as he deflected Roman Josi’s shot from the top of the near circle past Kiprusoff. Legwand scored while the fat lady was rehearsing as he shot the puck on net and somehow went by Kiprusoff short side.

The game ended with the Preds losing 6-3.

Line Up Report

Starting Goaltenders:

Name SV SH Goals Allowed SV % Decision TOI
#35 Pekka Rinne* 0 2 2 .000   8:00
#30 Chris Mason 16 19 3 .842 LOSS 50:52
#34 Miikka Kiprusoff 17 20 3 .850 WIN 60:00


Predators Scratches: #7 D Jonathon Blum, #28 C Paul Gaustad (lower body) and #74 W Sergei Kostitsyn

Flames Scratches: #6 D Cory Sarich, #10 C Roman Cervenka and #33 D Anton Babchuk

Trotz sending messages: In a slump, coaches like to send messages to their team to wake them up so they can get back to their game. That is what Barry Trotz did Friday night, which ended up not working out so well. With that being the case, it leaves people wondering what the next step is for the Preds.

Entering Friday’s game, Trotz started his message sending by scratching Sergei Kostitsyn. Kostitsyn’s lack of production and shooting the puck has been an issue. The coaching staff has been trying to get the Belarusian native to start firing the puck more, but it hasn’t gotten through his thick skull.

In Kostitsyn’s past seven games, he has tallied only two assists and has a -1 +/-.

Pekka Rinne was left out to dry early on. Rinne was pulled due to allowing two goals on as many shots. It was clearly not Rinne's fault. The defense was horrendous in covering players and were turning the puck over often. This was not only happening to the star goaltender, but also Chris Mason, who came in after Rinne was pulled.

“Peks is not in a good place right now,” said Trotz, “because they’re not helping him.”

Again, the message Trotz sent out did not work as the defense were still playing mediocre by allowing five goals to get past Mason. However, the effects could show against the Edmonton Oilers. Things are going to change quickly in the locker room whether it is via trade or being sat.

Mueller’s first game of the season: In replacement of Sergei Kostitsyn, Chris Mueller was asked to step in on the 4th line with Rich Clune and Brandon Yip. Mueller was recalled by the Predators Wednesday and was a scratch against in Vancouver Thursday night.

Mueller didn’t get much time to prove himself as he had only 7:08 of ice time and had a -1 +/-.

Goals and Assists

1-0 CGY: Mark Giordano – Tanguay and Cammalleri at 6:20 in the 1st

2-0 CGY: Blake Comeau – Hudler and Backlund at 8:00 in the 1st

3-0 CGY: Jiri Hudler – Cammalleri (2) and Wideman at 3:38 in the 2nd

3-1 CGY: PP Gabriel Bourque – Weber and Josi at 5:14 in the 2nd

4-1 CGY: Curtis Glencross – Stempniak and Stajan at 1:14 in the 3rd

4-2 CGY: Mike Fisher – Josi and Spaling at 3:15 in the 3rd

5-2 CGY: Curtis Glencross (2) – Stempniak (2) and Stajan (2) at 5:32 in the 3rd

5-3 CGY: David Lewgand – Halischuk at 17:41 in the 3rd

6-3 CGY: EN Curtis Glencross (3) – Stajan (3) at 19:41 in the 3rd

My Three Stars of the Game

1. Curtis Glencross: Hat-trick

2. Matt Stajan: 3 Assists

3. Mike Cammalleri: 2 Assists