It was a case of the worst possible results born of the best intentions for the Nashville Predators on Monday.
Twice in a span of just more than three minutes of the second period a Nashville defenseman had the puck on his stick and a clear idea of what to do with it. Both times – once directly and once indirectly – the result was a goal for the other team.
The Predators never answered and ultimately lost 5-0 to the Calgary Flames before 10,581 at Sommet Center. It was their worst shutout defeat since a 6-0 loss at Los Angeles on Oct. 23, 2007 and an unlikely end to a stretch in which they played eight of nine at home and won seven of those nine.
“There’s going to be nights when you’re not as good as the other team,” coach Barry Trotz said. “(Monday) night, we were not as good as the Calgary Flames. They definitely deserved to win the hockey game. No question.”
Things first went bad when Dan Hamhuis had possession just inside Calgary’s offensive zone off a faceoff win by Jason Arnott. Hamhuis, who scored his first goal of the season two nights earlier, initially wanted to get a shot on net. He abandoned that plan when he saw Flames’ right wing David Moss in the shooting lane and, instead, tried to fire the puck deep.
Moss not only blocked the attempt, he gathered up the loose puck and headed the other direction on a breakaway. His backhand shot beat goalie Pekka Rinne between the pads and put the Predators in a 1-0 hole 1:32 into the second.
“Seeing the guy there, I just tried to put it in the corner and still hit him,” Hamhuis said. “It’s kind of an unfortunate bounce, but we really didn’t regroup after that either.”
Not long after, Ryan Suter got control in the defensive end and decided upon a prudent course of action – a simple clearing pass off the glass. Ultimately, he shot the puck in the stands, which earned him a delay of game penalty at 3:44 of the period.
Calgary took advantage – and a 2-0 lead – 55 seconds later when Jerome Iginla fed the puck to the front of the net where Nigel Dawes stuffed it home.
“It was a bad play by me flipping the puck over,” Suter said. “… Before that, I thought we could have gotten back into it. We had a couple good chances. Then when it was 2-0, we had some more.”
Nashville was outshot 30-22 for the game but had an 11-7 edge – and some quality chances – in the second period. None were good enough to get past Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who has allowed five goals in his last five appearances and now has back-to-back shutouts to his credit.
The Flames completely pushed things out of reach with three third-period goals, the last two in the final four minutes.
“In the second period I thought we were coming with a little more energy and were supporting the puck a little bit better,” Trotz said. “Then we win a draw, get a shot blocked and they go down and score. … That one hurt. Then we end up throwing it over the glass, and they score another goal.
“… The third goal was game, set and match, really. It wasn’t our best effort.”
• Desperate to try and generate something, the Predators pulled the goalie with 4:33 to play in the third when Dawes was sent off for high-sticking. Despite the two-man advantage in the offensive end, Nashville gave up a shorthanded goal and fell behind 4-0 when Calgary’s Curtis Glencross fired the puck in from the opposite goal line.
“It was 3-0 and we weren’t exactly generating a lot of chances,” Trotz said. “You figure we’ll go six to their four. … We needed numbers so we pulled our goalie.”
• With one goal and one assist on the night, Iginla raised his career total to 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) against the Predators. Only Detroit’s Niklas Lidstrom (51 points) has more all-time against Nashville.
Iginla has gotten his in 37 games, an average of 1.24 points per contest. Lidstrom has done it in 63 appearances, an average of 0.81 points per game.
• Rinne has lost two straight starts for the first time since Oct. 10 and 12, his first two appearances of the season.
• Forward Dave Scatchard and defenseman Alexander Sulzer were Nashville’s scratches. Sulzer has not played an NHL contest since Nov. 7 at Los Angeles.