Predators overcome imperfection, end season's longest streak

Friday, March 22, 2013 at 12:56am

Either the Nashville Predators are better equipped to overcome mistakes in their own building than they are on the road. Or they have made enough in recent games that they simply know how to deal with them better.

Either way, their 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames before another sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena was hardly a study in perfection.

Most notably, Nashville set one franchise record and tied another when it gave up two shorthanded goals in the first period. Both gave the Flames the lead, 1-0 and 2-1, respectively, but the Predators managed to get even before the first intermission and went ahead to stay when Mike Fisher and Nick Spaling scored one minute apart in the second period.

“What impressed me the most was that we didn’t go into a shell when we ran into a little bad luck and a little bit of bad play that goes along with it,” coach Barry Trotz said. “… We had a good, positive spirit.”

Only twice previously had Nashville allowed two shorthanded goals in a game – and both times it lost. The last was March 2, 2002, against Calgary coincidentally.

Never had it happened in a single period, as was the case this time.

“We had a couple of bad mistakes,” right wing Martin Erat said. “It happens. It’s been a long season. We bounced back [Thursday] and we have to just hope for more.”

Defenseman Roman Josi made the first major gaffe when he lost the puck at the Calgary blue line less than a minute in the first of four Predators’ power plays. The turnover resulted in the first goal, but Josi’s assist on Erat’s goal a little more than six minutes later tied it 1-1

Josi later had the primary assist on the second of Fisher’s two goals, which put Nashville ahead to stay at 13:24 of the second period. Erat finished with a game-high three points (one goal, two assists), Josi added the two assists for his third multi-point game in the last four, and Fisher’s goals gave him five in the last five games.

“You get mad if you get scored on and you make a mistake, but then after it you have to shake it off,” Josi said. “There is still so much game left and if you think about your mistakes the whole game then you’re not going to play well. So you just have to shake it off and keep playing your game.”

The victory snapped the Predators’ season-long four-game losing streak (all in regulation) and got the team back within two points of eighth place in the Western Conference standings. All four defeats were on a five-game road trip that ended Tuesday at Columbus.

It also was the fifth time in six games they scored three goals or more. Nine different players had at least a point. Erat’s goal was his first in 22 games. Brandon Yip, who made it 5-2 in the third period, snapped a stretch of 17 games without  goal, and defenseman Victory Bartley registered his first NHL point with an assist on Spaling’s goal.

“We didn’t panic [Thursday],” Trotz said. “We showed a lot of maturity and a lot of poise and, to me, that was the most impressive thing. We just stayed with it and we got contributions through the whole lineup.

“That sounded more like the Predators.”

Even with a couple of sour notes.

• Briefly: Craig Smith was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. The second-year forward had no goals and four assists in his last nine games and got just 7:40 of ice time Tuesday at Columbus. “Craig is a good young player, but you can’t be a good young player playing that poorly,” Trotz said. “He didn’t have a good road trip.” … The Carolina Hurricanes claimed forward Zac Boychuk off waivers. The 2008 first-round draft pick had one goal and one assist in five games with Nashville, which claimed him off waivers from Pittsburgh. He started the season with Carolina.