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Conroy helps Flames hang on for wild 7-6 victory over Nashville

NHL.com @NHL

CALGARY - Craig Conroy's two goals and an assist led Calgary as the Flames scored four unanswered goals in the first period Thursday, then hung on for a 7-6 victory over the Nashville Predators.

Conroy opened up the scoring at 7:26 while shorthanded when he was sent in alone by Eric Nystrom and snapped a shot through the pads of rookie Finnish goaltender Pekka Rinne.

After Rinne's mishandling of the puck led to Rene Bourque's goal at 11:59, Conroy struck again at 16:44 deftly knocking an elevated Jarome Iginla pass out of the air and onto his stick, then wristing a shot inside the goal post.

Conroy then turned playmaker setting up Cory Sarich in the slot at 18:55 to wrap up the Flames' explosive opening 20 minutes and end Rinne's evening .

Making his third start in four games, and coming off back-to-back victories in which he turned aside 51 of 54 shots, Rinne struggled with just six stops in an opening period in which Nashville outshot Calgary 14-10. Dan Ellis took over for Rinne to start the second.

Trailing 7-4 late in the third, Nashville made an impressive late push getting a short-handed goal from Vernon Fiddler on a penalty shot at 17:00 and getting another short-handed goal from Shea Weber - his second goal of the night - with 20 seconds remaining. However, the Predators rally would fall just short with Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff kicking aside Ryan Suter's 30-foot backhand as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Iginla had a pair of power-play goals and Daymond Langkow also scored for Calgary (8-5-1). Todd Bertuzzi had three assists.

The Flames' seventh win in their last nine games (7-2-0) keeps them tied with Minnesota atop the Northwest Division.

Martin Erat, Jason Arnott, and David Legwand also scored for Nashville (6-6-1), which has dropped the first two games of their season-long six game road trip.

Trailing 5-0 early in the second period, Nashville made things interesting when they stormed back with three goals in just over five minutes.

The rally began when Calgary got into penalty trouble. Dion Phaneuf was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct and 13 seconds into his penalty, Jim Vandermeer was penalized for hooking.

It took 18 seconds for Erat to convert the 5-on-3 and get Nashville on the board. As he left the penalty box, Phaneuf voiced his displeasure over his penalty and was given another unsportsmanlike conduct and the Predators again converted the two-man advantage with Arnott on the receiving end of a set up from J.P. Dumont.

After Weber's goal at 8:25 drew Nashville to within two goals, Calgary responded with Langkow's redirection one minute later to go back up by three.

Iginla's second of the night - and eighth of the seaon - put the Flames ahead 7-3 38 seconds into the third by converting a pretty passing play with Phaneuf and Bertuzzi.

The final shots were 29-29.

Notes: Sarich's goal was his first in 64 games dating back to Dec. 9, 2007... It was just the second win for Calgary in its last seven home games versus Nashville (2-4-1)... Langkow extends his point-scoring streak to five games (three goals, two assists)... Arnott has scored 25 goals against Calgary in 48 career games... Nashville only has one other road trip remaining that is longer than three games and that's a four-game trip in March... Twice last year the Flames scored four times in a period and it came in the same game, a 9-6 victory over Tampa Bay on Dec. 13, 2007.

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