CALGARY – Just when it looked like the Calgary Flames might steal a win, the Nashville Predators came back and got the two points they felt they deserved.
Scott Nichol scored the tying goal in the third and J.P. Dumont scored the overtime winner as Nashville picked up a big two points in the Western Conference playoff race with a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday.
The winning goal came when Dumont knocked the puck off Adrian Aucoin’s stick and it went to Alexander Radulov cutting through the slot. Radulov’s shot hit the goalpost, but the puck bounced to Dumont who has an empty net to slide in his 26th goal of the season.
“I saw Aucoin coming out of the corner with the puck and I knew he was going to try and make a pass so I just played the man and was able to knock the puck down to Radz,” Dumont said. “I went to the net and the puck hit the post and came right onto my stick.
“We deserved the two points tonight and we got it”.
The Flames had a chance to win it when Radulov got called for closing his hand on the puck with two minutes left in the third. However, the Flames power-play could not produce the winning goal, ending the night 0-for-6 on the power play.
“Talk about a bad penalty, that was a brain dead penalty,” said Nashville coach Barry Trotz. “But the guys were good. They said we’re going to kill this off and we’re going to win it in overtime.”
The Predators (35-26-8) moved past Vancouver into a tie with the Colorado Avalanche for seventh place in the Western Conference. Nashville is 3-2 on its season-long six-game road trip that it wraps up Sunday in Detroit.
Craig Conroy scored for Calgary (35-23-10). By getting a point, the Flames stay tied with Minnesota atop the Northwest Division after the Wild lost 3-2 in a shootout to Atlanta on Friday. The Flames hold one game in hand.
After getting pulled Thursday night in Vancouver after giving up three goals on 11 shots, Ellis was back in net for the Predators and was far less busy early although he finished the night with 29 stops to improve to 18-7-2.
“We had a quick turnover and he only played five or six minutes last game,” Trotz said. “I said this is going to be tough night, I need the freshest goalie. Elli’s has been a good goalie for us and he responded really well.”
Jarome Iginla failed to score and remains at 364 career goals, which ties him with Theoren Fleury for top spot on the Flames all-time list.
Tied 1-1, Calgary nearly pulled ahead with four minutes left but Cory Sarich’s wrist shot from the blue-line through a crowd rang off the goalpost.
The Flames got another chance to win it when Alexander Radulov got called for closing his hand on the puck with two minutes left in the third.
However, the Flames power-play could not produce the winning goal ending up the night 0-for-6 with the extra man.
In the last six games, Nashville has killed of 29 of 31 penalties.
Trailing 1-0 after two periods, Nashville tied the score at 8:58 of the third when Nichol burst down the wing into the Flames end and fired a wrist shot from a sharp angle that deflected off Kiprusoff’s shoulder and into the top corner.
The goal ended Kiprusoff’s shutout streak at exactly 115 minutes.
The only goal of the opening 40 minutes came at 11:38 of the second period off a turnover deep in the Nashville zone.
Ryan Suter’s pass across the ice to his defence partner Shea Weber skipped past Weber’s stick and caromed sharply off the side boards and into the slot. Conroy swooped in to collect in and promptly ripped a shot into the top corner on Ellis.
“After I had scored, I had another great chance and I needed just to get it up a little bit higher then it’s 2-0 and it’s over,” said Conroy. “We have to get that killer instinct. We get one goal then we maybe feel like we’re just going to hang on.”
On the heels of a 39-shot shutout Tuesday night against Columbus, Kiprusoff was again spectacular making 33 saves including 14 in a first period dominated by Nashville.
Jerred Smithson had the best chance in that opening 20 minutes but his dangerous one-timer from the slot was smothered by Kiprusoff.
Although Calgary was the team with Thursday night off while Nashville was playing a late game in Vancouver, it was the Flames that started out lethargically. They were outshot 10-1 through the opening 14 minutes and the one shot they were credited with was a 150 foot backhand by Owen Nolan while Calgary was killing a penalty.
“We took some penalties early and that took away from our momentumn,” said Aucoin. “When we don’t roll all our lines it’s tough for a lot of guys to get going. It’s something we’ve dealt with all year and we have to figure it out.”
Calgary finally generated some dangerous late in the period but defenceman David Hale was denied on a snap shot from 15 feet out and Jarome Iginla’s shot was kicked out after the Flames captain was set up in front by Kristian Huselius.
Ellis finished with 29 saves to improve to 18-7-2.
Notes: Calgary D Cory Sarich got back in the line-up after being a healthy scratch the past two games. His returned pushed veteran D Rhett Warrener to the sidelines… On the points list, Iginla (743) ranks third behind Fleury (830) and Al MacInnis (822)… Flames D David Hale has now gone 210 career NHL games without a goal. The record for longest drought from the start of one’s career is 217 held by former Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Terry Murray… Nashville finishes the season with a 10-8-2 record against the Northwest Division.