The Nashville Predators began a six-game road trip tonight in Alberta against what could be the team’s biggest test of the stretch: the Calgary Flames. After garnering momentum from a 3-0 week before the expedition to the north began, the team was looking to carry that play forward against one of the hottest teams in the NHL.
Juuse Saros and and Jacob Markstrom got the starts in net for Nashville and Calgary, respectively, as the Predators defeated the Flames in overtime, 3-2.
Calgary came out of the gates firing, peppering Saros with shots early and often. Seeking momentum, Mark Borowiecki broke the ice by beating the living hell out of Brett Richie, sending both players to their locker rooms to get checked out instead of the box to serve their penalties. Despite trailing in the shot count 9-20 by the end of the first period, it was the visiting Predators who tallied on the scoreboard first. Right off of an offensive-zone face off, Luke Kunin tapped in a rebound past Markstrom, and Nashville was ahead by one.
Calgary immediately pressed Nashville’s defense, vying for an equalizer, and they earned an opportunity to get one on the man-advantage when Johnny Gaudreau found open ice in front of Saros. Dante Fabbro slashed him to prevent a high-danger situation, but he was sent to the penalty box because of it. The Flames made quick work of the power play, getting bodies in front of Saros on a fast break and evening the score with a rebound goal from Matthew Tkachuk.
The Flames kept their foot on the gas pedal, generating shots at a much higher clip than the Preds, but Nashville once again found a way to score. Filip Forsberg, streaking towards the net, received a pass from Matt Duchene and fired home the final goal of the period to make it 2-1. Somehow, someway, the Predators were ahead after one period.
Nashville was shorthanded early in the second period after Roman Josi was called for tripping, but Saros came up big and kept the score at 2-1. Soon after, Blake Coleman cross-checked Dante Fabbro, which then sent Nashville onto the power play. This man advantage was also killed off as Nashville was unable to generate much of any pressure.
Neither team could create any extended offensive pressure as the period drew on; the shot count for the second period was 4-4 with four minutes left in the period. Late in the period, Nashville was sent onto the penalty kill for yet another slashing call, this time Kunin on Noah Hanifin. Saros was once again tested, but kept the dangerous shots out and killed the penalty off. Mere seconds remained in the period after the penalty expired, so the Predators would enter the third with the same score that they entered the second with.
Yet again, Nashville began the period of play with a penalty. Roman Josi sent a puck over the glass, and the ensuing delay of game call put Calgary on the power play. The Flames didn’t score within the two-minute man advantage, but they buried the tying goal soon after; Oliver Kylington wristed a shot off the iron and past Saros to bring the affair to a 2-2 tie. To make matters worse, the Predators were right back on the penalty kill from a Kunin high stick. Dillon Dube was sent to the box soon after though, bringing the game to 4-on-4 and further muddying this special-teams-filled bout.
With over 15 minutes left in the final period of play, the teams began to exchange chances like two snipers firing off shots at each other from hundreds of feet away. The chances were not abundant, but each seemed to raise the intensity of the game more than the last. With four minutes and change left, the Predators were once again sent into the penalty box for a hooking call on Tanner Jeannot. Once again, Saros rose to the occasion. The Finn stopped all 10 shots of the period, and the final penalty kill was no different. The offense couldn’t provide a game-winner, though, so the game was on its way to overtime.
Nashville maintained pressure for the first few minutes of 3-on-3 hockey. This pressure was capitalized on when Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund found space on a 2-on-1 break. Granlund fed Duchene, and Duchene lasered it home. 3-2 Preds, onto the next.
OTFs Three Stars of the Game
- Matt Duchene — Scored the game-winning goal.
- Juuse Saros — Kept the game within reach for Nashville.
Matt Borowiecki — Delivered one of the most punishing fights I’ve seen in a while. Tootoo-esque.