NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It wasn’t how the Calgary Flames wanted to win, but they’ll take a big third-period comeback anytime they can get one.
Down by two goals after two periods Thursday night against the Nashville Predators, the Flames stormed back with four third-period goals to earn a 5-3 victory. As is usually the case, captain Jarome Iginla led the way and he did it with a hat trick.
“It’s a good sign for us,” said Miikka Kiprusoff, who made 35 saves. “You just have to keep believing there is still time. It was an unbelievable comeback and huge points for us.”
The Predators struck twice against Kiprusoff in a span of 19 seconds in the second.
Greg Zanon gave Nashville a 1-0 lead when he fired a one-timed shot from high above the right circle that went into the top right corner of the net at 5:42.
At 6:01, Jordin Tootoo skated into the left circle and beat Kiprusoff to a similar spot to make it a two-goal edge for the Predators. Jason Arnott made it 3-0 at 8:10 when he scored from the slot on the power play.
Nashville’s three goals within a span of 2:28 were the Predators’ fastest three at home in team history.
Iginla started Calgary’s comeback at 14:04 with a one-timer from the right circle that beat Dan Ellis wide to his left side. Ellis had come out in front of the crease to the right.
“A goal like that always gives you momentum,” Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. “I think that was the big goal for us.”
Also big for the Flames was the Predators’ failures on the power play. They were 1-of-9, and were scoreless for more than three minutes in a 5-on-3 situation.
“The penalty kill was huge,” Iginla said. “They had two five-on-threes for almost two minutes each. If they got any one of those it would have been deflating for us and a huge boost for them.”
Predators forward J.P. Dumont agreed with Iginla’s analysis.
“We had a few power plays and we had a few chances, but we didn’t put the puck in the net,” he said. “That is going to cost us a few games.
“We had a chance to take the game away from them when it was 3-1, but when you don’t score on five-on-threes it is going to cost you.”
In the third period, the Flames scored two quick goals. Iginla beat Ellis to the right side at 6:52. David Moss tied it 3-3 at 8:05 with a shot from the edge of the crease.
Mike Cammalleri scored the go-ahead goal during a power play at 7:29 as he was stationed in front of the net. He redirected defenceman Dion Phaneuf’s long shot from the left side.
“In the second period we pretty much owned Calgary,” Ellis said. “Then in the third we just kind of let up and they took it to us.
“They were getting pucks and people to the net and they were banging home their rebounds. They just wanted it a little more than us.”
With three seconds remaining, Iginla backhanded in an empty-net goal.
The Flames have back-to-back wins, including a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. They also are riding a huge boost of confidence.
“Winning these two games like we did teaches us to stick with it,” Iginla said. “We were down in both of those games.
“We want to come out blazing in every game, but if we’re not doing that these are the types of games we can draw on. We can remember that it is possible to make a come back.”
The loss was troubling to the Predators. With only six homes games remaining between now and Dec. 4 every home defeat is devastating.
“We’re going to have to become good road warriors,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “This one hurts double because it’s a home game and it’s against a team we’ll be battling with all season. We had them on the floor and we couldn’t knock them out.”
Notes: Nick Tarnasky made his season debut for the Predators and earned an assist after being sidelined since training camp due to a broken thumb. … Zanon’s goal was the seventh by a Nashville defenceman this season and his first since March 31, 2007. … Zanon and Tootoo’s goals were the fourth fastest pair scored by the Predators. … Arnott returned after missing three games because of a broken finger. … Phaneuf has three multi-point games in October, all with two assists. … Iginla entered with only two goals this season.