A free agent signing by Nashville last July, Arnott scored twice Saturday night as the Predators built up a 2-0 lead after two periods then hung on for a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames.
After starting the season with three losses, Nashville (6-3-1) has picked up points in each of their last seven games and are tied atop the Central Division with the Detroit Red Wings.
“We started this season not the way we wanted, but we’re improving every game,” said Arnott, whose 834 career games makes him the Predators most experienced player. “We’re a young team, we’re still learning, and good things will happen for us down the road if we continue playing hard.”
Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the third period and with the Flames playing their most inspired hockey of the game, Arnott’s fifth goal of the season at 9:46 was a back breaker.
Miikka Kiprusoff, spectacular all night in goal for the Flames with 32 stops, had no chance as Shea Weber’s hard slapshot from the blue-line was deflected in by Arnott.
Calgary drew back to within one for the second time in the period on Jarome Iginla’s second goal of the night with 3:43 left. However, that was as close as the Flames could get despite a frantic sequence of action around Tomas Vokoun to close the game.
J.P. Dumont had the other goal for Nashville. The Predators kick off a five-game road trip with a fourth straight win away from the Gaylord Center.
Calgary (3-5-1) has won just once in their past five games (1-3-1) and sit last in the Northwest Division.
“We weren’t good enough early,” Iginla said. “We’ve been a good third period team this season, but we know we have to find a way to be better early. We need to be tied or better going into the third instead of being down.”
After playing just once in eight days, a busy stretch of five games in eight nights for Calgary continues Monday night with the Washington Capitals in town.
Although he only faced seven shots in the first half of the game, Vokoun was much busier over the final 30 minutes finishing with 25 saves to improve to 10-3-3 lifetime against the Flames.
“It was a battle of world class goaltenders tonight with Kiprusoff versus Vokoun and I think Vouk knew it, and he wanted to make sure he was up for the challenge,” said Nashville’s Steve Sullivan.
Nashville has dominated Calgary over the last several years having won five games in a row and losing only once in their past 11 meetings.
Arnott gave Nashville a 2-0 lead on a power-play goal at 10:21 of the second period. Having killed off Nashville first four power-plays, there was just 39 seconds left in Andrei Zyuzin’s interference penalty when Arnott ripped a slapshot past Kiprusoff.
“When you’re penalty killing for the first period and a half, it takes a lot of guys out of the game and it gives them momentum,” Iginla said. “They don’t even have to score, our goalie can make some unbelievable saves, but it’s a lot of momentum. They took it, they built on it and it took us a long time to get it back and in the end we ran out of time.”
In the continuation of what’s been an early season problem for the Flames, they fell behind on a goal in the final minute of a period.
There was just 13 seconds left in the first period when Dumont snapped in a loose puck to open the scoring.
Notes: – Calgary D Dion Phaneuf was out with the flu marking the first NHL game he has missed. In his rookie season last year, Phaneuf was one of only four Flames to play in all 82 games. That opened up a spot for rookie D Mark Giordano, who scored twice in his last game back on Oct. 14 … Sullivan returned to the line-up after missing three games with back spasms… Kiprusoff is the only goaltender that has played every minute of his team’s games… Calgary LW Jeff Friesen has not scored in his last 25 games.