It was an opportunity for fans to bid farewell to the Nashville Predators.
More important, the team and its followers said good riddance to a losing streak that began nearly three weeks ago.
Only two games — both on the road — remain for the Predators in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 schedule and even after Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames the official finish can’t come soon enough. Still, the end of an eight-game slide (0-7-1) was a welcome respite from the drudgery that had been the closing stretch.
“It’s nice,” captain Shea Weber said. “It’s extra special in front of these fans because they’ve stuck with us all year through the tough times.”
A sellout was announced yet Bridgestone Arena was anything but a full house. Whatever the number of those who actually attended, they celebrated the first victory — and first at home — since April 2 against Colorado. They also saw Nashville score four or more in consecutive games for just the fourth time this season.
The nearly equal mix of veterans and novices that had been a formula for disaster suddenly came together in a potent combination. Weber had a pair of assists and David Legwand became the team’s outright leader in goals with his 12th. Also, top prospects Austin Watson and Filip Forsberg notched their first NHL points.
Watson scored the goal that put the Predators on top, the first of two in a span of 1:23 early in Nashville skaters had a point.
“We got contributions from, sort of, all the lines, which was very Predator-like, if you will,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We just stayed with it. We had a lot of energy in the third period. I don’t know what the shots ended up in the third but they were pretty one-sided.
“I thought the [score] was actually a little closer than it should have been.”
Nashville did carry the play for the majority of the contest and finished with a decisive edge in shots (32-18), including 11-3 over the final 20 minutes. It also had 18 attempts blocked — three times as many as Calgary — and 19 more that missed the net.
Still, the Flames were much more efficient in terms of converting chances. They took a 2-1 lead when they scored on their first shot of the second period (7:06 after the first intermission) and created a little more drama when they found the net with their second shot of the third period, with 4:50 to play.
There also were times when the Predators were reminded that many of their top forwards are injured and that they continue to rely on a handful of players who have spent the majority of time in the minor leagues. They hit the post several times, and Daniel Bang missed the net with a second-period breakaway. A miscue by Forsberg in the offensive end contributed to Calgary’s second goal.
“They got a questionable goal — the third one, whether it was played with a high stick or not — but it counted,” Legwand said. “We have to move on and I think we did a good job down at the end of protecting a lead and not giving them much.”
The bulk of the losing streak — six of the eight games — played out at home, yet the Predators ultimately averaged more than a point in the 24 games in their own building this season. They finished 11-9-4 and outscored the opposition 59-55.
They also got — in more ways than one — the ending they wanted.
“It’s the main thing — we’re here to win games,” Matt Halischuk said. “It’s nice to see [Watson] get his first goal and [Forsberg] get his first point. It was a great win and something we can build off of for the last two games.”
• Briefly: Legwand’s goal was the 200th of his career. He has played 892 games. … Defenseman Hal Gill played his 1,100th career contest, which is fourth among all active defensemen.