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Nashville Predators 3, Calgary Flames 2 (SO): Duchene scores 40th in high-stakes win

The Nashville Predators took the ice tonight, trying to make up for a rough loss on Sunday. Their opponent was a skilled Calgary Flames team looking to secure playoff seeding.

While the Preds’ start was better than some of their recent play, and Filip Forsberg hit the crossbar early, but Forsberg did then take a penalty trying to make a defensive play on Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames’ power play got their first chance of the night. A good effort from Juuse Saros and the Preds penalty killers kept the scoresheet blank, and the Preds went back on the attack once Forsberg made it out of the box.

Although Mikael Granlund broke his stick trying to make a pass, and the Flames’ subsequent clear was not called as icing, the Preds kept the pressure on. Luke Kunin had a couple of fantastic chances late in the period, but Flames goalie Dan Vladar made the saves, curling up on the ice around the puck for a dramatic final stop.

Hostilities began to simmer in the final seconds of the period, but the teams headed off for intermission without further score or further penalties. That changed early in the second, as Matthew Tkachuk opted to do Matthew Tkachuk things and was called for roughing against Nick Cousins. The Preds’ power play had some chances, but was unable to convert.

However, they got another chance when Nikita Zadorov took a hooking penalty, and this time Forsberg was able to score, giving the Preds a lead with a post-and-in-shot. It was Forsberg’s 39th of the season, tying him with Matt Duchene.

The Flames tried to retaliate, but the next goal was scored by Duchene himself, picking up a Forsberg rebound. He became the first Nashville Predator in franchise history to have a forty-goal season for the team; a jubilant Forsberg collected the puck for him.

Unfortunately, moments after that, Duchene cross-checked Rasmus Andersson, sending the Preds back to the penalty kill. He was only in the sin bin for nine seconds, as the Flames scored off the faceoff with a pinballing shot that was eventually credited to Andrew Mangiapane.

The teams exchanged chances after that, before Nikita Zadorov sent Yakov Trenin flying. Trenin sold the call a little, but he was interfered with. The Flames were able to kill the penalty off, and the period ended without further ado.

Although the Preds started the third period out with some good chances, looking to re-extend their lead, the first score of the period came six minutes in from Mangiapane again, as he broke in against a tired Preds group of skaters to tie the game at 2.

It seemed like Colton Sissons had scored the go-ahead goal, but the puck went off the crossbar and out, and Tanner Jeannot was almost immediately whistled for tripping. The Preds’ penalty kill was tested early, but Sissons was able to draw an interference penalty from Mangiapane, putting the teams 4-on-4 with half the penalty elapsed. The Flames were able to kill off the remainder of the penalty, and the teams returned to five a side with under five minutes left in regulation.

The teams exchanged high-paced chances and high-intensity words (and shoves) for the remainder of the period, but neither team managed a goal as they headed to overtime,

Forsberg tried to split the Flames’ defense early in overtime, but wasn’t quite able to power past them and get the shot off. Johansen also had a great chance, but Vladar was able to make the save and Gaudreau went streaking up-ice in an odd-man rush. Saros in turn made the stop, and the Preds regained possession.

The game clock stopped for a while with 2:44 left before being resumed and reset, with over two minutes still remaining, thus sparing us all the question of what would happen if an overtime goal was scored after overtime should have ended. With 1:12 left, there was a stoppage of play initially called as a Flames offside before—after some objection from John Hynes—being called as too many Flames on the ice. There were, in fact, four of them, and it was, in fact, 3v3 overtime.

Despite some chances, the Preds were unable to solve Vladar in the OT power play, and the game headed to a shootout. Mikael Granlund had the only goal there, and the Preds came away with the winner point.