NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators were outscored and outplayed in their two previous games against the Calgary Flames.
They used a combination of strong goaltending by Chris Mason, tough defence and a relentless offensive attack to beat the Calgary Flames 3-0 on Tuesday night. It was the fourth straight loss for the Flames, who beat the Predators 7-4 and 5-1 earlier this season.
“When we played Calgary before, we were still trying to find our identity as a team,” said Mason, who stopped 22 shots for his third shutout this season, and second since Jan. 8. “I don’t think we were playing our best hockey the last two times we met Calgary.”
J.P. Dumont scored a goal and added an assist, and Martin Erat and Ville Koistinen also scored for the Predators.
“This time out was probably one of our better games of the year,” Mason said. “We were strong in all areas. We stayed disciplined. Our forwards were unbelievable. Our defencemen were magnificent. We didn
Dumont extended his points streak to nine games with a goal and an assist. He has 14 points, seven goals and seven assists, during that stretch. He also has multiple points in five of his last seven games.
“One of the things J.P. has always been able to use is his ability to score,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s a heavy participant in the game.
“Earlier on this year he was watching a majority of the game. Now he is more involved and because of that, he’s getting extra pucks. He is consciously moving his feet and going into the hard areas. He has also stepped up his leadership. He has taken a lot of responsibility for how he should play.”
Neither team scored in the first period as the Predators held a 10-6 edge in shots.
Nashville took a 1-0 lead at the 11:34 mark of the second period when Erat took a pass from Radek Bonk near the top of the slot and beat Mikka Kiprusoff high to his glove side with a one-timer.
Dumont gave the Predators a 2-0 lead when he skated from behind the net and backhanded a wraparound shot under the leg pads of Kiprusoff with 4:57 left in the period.
Koistinen scored the Predators’ third goal 59 seconds into the final period on the power play as he blasted a slap shot from between the blue line and top edge of the left face-off circle to beat Kiprusoff low to his glove side.
After Koistinen’s goal, Kiprusoff was replaced by Curtis McElhinney for the rest of the game.
“I’m concerned about the effort,” Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. “The work ethic is the biggest concern. If you were really fair in evaluating us, Nashville outworked us for most of the game and that has nothing to do with X’s and O’s. It has to do with effort.”
The Predators pounded the Flames with 38 shots on goal.
“We were in the box a lot and that gave Nashville a lot of shots and momentum,” Calgary’s Jarome Iginla said. “They kept us from doing what we like to do and kept us out of their zone. We have to play better.”
Notes: Shea Weber was back on the ice for the Predators after missing the last 11 games. … Kiprusoff has started all but one game this season, but should get some relief with the signing of veteran Curtis Joseph. … The Predators officially announced that Steve Sullivan, who hasn’t played this season due to back problems, is highly doubtful to return this season. … The Flames have scored only six goals in their last four games.