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Preds hiccup against Flames, lose 3-1…

The offensive onslaught took a night off on Monday.

The Nashville Predators, who had scored a season high 41 goals in the month of January, fired only 24 shots at Calgary Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and paid the price, losing 3-1 in front of 19,289 at the Saddledome.

Pekka Rinne turned aside 24 Calgary shots as he fell to 17-12-4 on the season.

It’s the first time since December 26 that the Preds have scored less than two goals in a game.

Possibly even moreso than the offense not showing up, the story of the game was penalties. Nashville took six penalties and, as a result, both the game-winning and insurance goals came on the man advantage. Plus, let’s face it, it’s hard to score goals of your own when you’re shorthanded for 12 of the 60 minutes in a game.

Were the penalties due to fatigue? On paper, one would think so (and they’d be right). The Preds were playing their second game in as many nights and they had even gone into a shootout against Edmonton after playing 65 minutes of hockey without a decision. What’s the number one red flag in a referee’s mind? If you stop moving your feet. When you stop moving your feet you start hooking and holding and grabbing. Guess how many of the six trips to the sin bin were hooking calls? Three. Then, there was a fourth “fatigue” penalty when Nashville was called for too many men on the ice. The scary thing about that call was that they had seven men on the ice for a few seconds and the officials missed it. It was only when Martin Erat jumped on to replace one of the seven that the Preds got called.

As far as the scoring goes, it was the home team who struck first. With the Predators scrambling around in the goal crease, Curtis Glencross tallied his 12th goal of the year. The initial shot actually hit a diving Shea Weber and then deflected up and over Rinne to give the Flames a 1-0 lead halfway through the first period.

In the second, the Preds answered. Joel Ward dumped the puck in but Kiprusoff decided to play it right back to him. Ward then backhanded it out in front to Colin Wilson who put a backhander of his own on net. When the puck trickled through Kiprusoff’s pads, David Legwand lunged to ensure the puck went over the goal line to tie the game.

Moments later though, Ward took a high-sticking penalty and, on the ensuing powerplay, Jarome Iginla tapped home his 21st goal of the campaign. The rebound came right to his stick where he was all alone to Rinne’s left and made no mistake scoring the eventual game-winner.

In an almost carbon copy of Iginla’s marker earlier, Brendan Morrison scored on the man advantage toward the end of the final stanza to round out the scoring.

In all honesty, this was a game the Predators had to win but, c’mon, there are worse things than losing to the Flames who sit just one point above the 14th place Columbus Blue Jackets in the West. So, while they shouldn’t be happy with their performance against an inferior team, this is not one of those games that should come back to haunt them either. Especially considering they’ve won 10 of their past 13 and Calgary isn’t exactly in direct competition with the Preds for a playoff spot.

Nashville will finish off their road trip against Vancouver on Wednesday night. It’ll be the first time in his seven year NHL career that Canucks blueliner Dan Hamhuis has played against the team that drafted him. And who wouldn’t love to see Weber hip check the crap out of him “Hamhius style?”

Puck drops at 9:00pm Central.

* Early in the first period when Ryan Suter was assessed a slashing call, it appeared as if the Flames closest to the play wanted a penalty shot. Rinne, who was twisting around, seemed to have “thrown his stick” at the shot. Calgary knew it was marginal, however, as they didn’t argue very long.
* Iginla holds the record for most goals scored against the Nashville franchise with 27.
* Wilson was perfect in the face-off dot, going 4-for-4.
* Weber led all Preds players with four shots on goal.
* The Predators have yet to win the second night of back-to-back’s when they start the same goaltender in each since Anders Lindback got his first and second career wins on October 13 and 14.

1) Alex Tanguay (CGY)
2) Miikka Kiprusoff (CGY)
3) Matt Stajan (CGY)

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //