Calgary 3, Nashville 1: Special teams fail to douse Flames

[Game Summary] - [Event Summary] - [Faceoff Report] - [SB Nation] - [Matchsticks and Gasoline]

The Nashville Predators' three game winning streak came to an end tonight against the Calgary Flames, as did the chance to move within two points of the division lead. It was a discouraging loss on many levels, mainly the lack of any conviction regarding actually playing special teams, but losing for just the third time in the entire month of January is certainly nothing to be alarmed about.

David Legwand scored Nashville's lone goal, while Pekka Rinne made 24 saves in the loss.

Further reaction and video highlights are found after the jump.

Ten thoughts on tonight's game:

  • Shea Weber doesn't make mistakes that often, and the Flames' first period goal was not really his fault, but he might owe Pekka Rinne dinner anyway. The puck bounced off of a prone Weber, and looped way up over Rinne's shoulder and just over the goal line. Fluke? Fluke.
  • In the second period, David Legwand scored a very similar goal after Miikka Kiprusoff misplayed the puck. Colin Wilson flipped a nifty backhander onto Kipper's shoulder, but it bounced up and over, and David Legwand poked it home. Fluke? Fluke. 
  • Maybe it was playing the second game of a back to back set, but Nashville was uncharacteristically lethargic, failing to heed their captain's words. It allowed the Flames to get into a scoring position much too often, particularly on the power play.
  • I like Kevin Klein more than most, but he has to do a better job of picking up a hall of fame goal scorer on the power play than he did on Calgary's 2nd goal. The puck rotated to the point, and Klein followed that instead of Jarome Iginla. Obviously, a poor decision.
  • When an item of strength suddenly becomes one of weakness, success will likely abandon you, at the very least in the short term, and that's what happened with the Predators' penalty kill tonight. The NHL's 5th ranked unit allowed two goals, and both of them on poor positioning. That alone can cause a loss...
  • ...but the Predators can't expect a group of players to consistently keep the puck out of the net when down a man if they insist on continually sending one to the box. Six penalties, obviously, is too many...
  • ... and when a lack of discipline and poor penalty kill is added to a power play that couldn't score on an empty net if their lives depended on it, there was very little chance that victory would be found on this night. Despite having two of the best point men in hockey, the Predators failed to move the puck and get shots on net. Again.
  • This relates back to the power play (when the Preds lose, doesn't everything?), but 24 shots on goal will rarely, if ever, result in offensive success, especially when they're of the weak, perimeter variety (and yes, that includes Shea Weber bombs). Take a look at this shot chart, courtesy of ESPN.com:

Predsshotchart_medium

See the high concentration of shots from the faceoff circles out? Yeah, not good.

  • The strangest statistic you'll see all night is perhaps the one that shows Colin Wilson going 4-4 on the dot. Strange from someone who is well under 50 percent on the year, but also encouraging from a young player projected to be a legitimate NHL center.
  • And so, it's on to Vancouver, where, in my opinion, the NHL's best team awaits. Yes, a different result tonight would've been preferable, but the loss gives the Predators a chance to bounce back, which we've seen them do multiple times over the past few weeks. Nashville's 10-3 in their last 13 games, and tonight doesn't change how good they've been. It's time to whoop some Canucks.

Video highlights:

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