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Friday, January 15, 2010

NHL Predators Road trip against the Calgary Flames

Preds end road trip against sliding Flames

(Sports Network) - The Nashville Predators will attempt to wrap a three-game road trip perfect this evening as they take on the Calgary Flames, who will be trying to avoid a fifth loss in six games.

The Predators visit Pengrowth Saddledome off road wins over Vancouver and Edmonton. Nashville has won four straight and 10 its last 13 on the road (10-2-1), including Tuesday's 5-3 victory over the Oilers.

Ryan Jones notched a career-high three points off a goal and two assists, while Shea Weber and Marcel Goc scored 28 seconds apart early in the opening frame to set the tone. Weber, Goc, J.P. Dumont and Patric Hornqvist all ended with a goal and a helper each, while Pekka Rinne made 38 saves.

"We did a pretty good job of getting the lead early and Pekka kind of held us in it after that," Weber said.

Weber's two-point night gave him three goals and eight assists over his last eight games, while Hornqvist has five goals and three assists over his last six games. Hornqvist, who leads the team with 18 goals, also has 12 tallies and six helpers over his last 15 contests.

Nashville, which has won six of its last eight overall, was without captain Jason Arnott for a third game in a row because of an upper-body injury.

Still, the Predators improved to 17-7-2 on the road this year and are tied for fourth in the Western Conference with 59 points. Nashville is also nine points behind first-place Chicago in the Central Division.

The Flames have just one fewer point than the Predators, but enter tonight tied with the Avalanche for first place in the Northwest Division. Colorado has gained on Calgary because the Flames have lost four of their last five and are 0-1-1 on a three-game homestand that concludes tonight.

After a shootout loss to Colorado on Monday, Calgary was dealt a 3-1 setback by visiting Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Mark Giordano scored the lone goal and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 24 shots for the Flames, who have lost three straight at home and are 12-9-3 as the host this year.

"We had 18 or 19 quality scoring chances tonight and we were only able to capitalize on one of them," said Calgary coach Brent Sutter. "One goal a night is tough to win games."

Calgary hopes that Jarome Iginla is able to shake off his recent slump, as the Flames captain has zero points in his last five games and just one goal over his last 10 contests. Iginla, though, has three goals and six points in three games versus the Predators this year, as well as 26 goals and 24 assists in 39 career contests against them.

Iginla had two goals and an assist in a 5-3 loss to the Predators at home on December 19, just Calgary's second loss in the last six meetings at Pengrowth Saddledome.

The Flames have sandwiched a pair of road victories over Nashville around that loss to give them six wins and their last seven meetings with the Predators overall.

Kiprusoff has been in net for all three games of this season's series, going 2-1-0 with a 1.68 goals-against average with a 22-save shutout on November 30.

Rinne was on the other end of that blanking in his lone start versus Calgary this year, making 25 saves, while Dan Ellis has started the other two games, going 1-1-0 with a 2.52 GAA.


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