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Flames' road trip continues vs. Predators

by Sean McCullen

FLAMES (16-24-6) at PREDATORS (19-21-7)


Last 10: Calgary 3-7-0; Nashville 3-4-3

Season series: This is the first of three games between the Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators. The other two games will be played in Calgary.

Big story: Expect a low-scoring game, as each team ranks in the bottom five in the NHL in goals. The Flames have scored 22 goals in their past 15 games (1.47 goals per game), and the Predators, who were shut out by the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, have scored 14 goals in seven games in 2014.

Team Scope:

Flames: It would be an understatement to say Calgary has been having a hard time scoring. The Flames have been shut out in five of their past nine games, with eight goals over that span, and are 29th in the NHL at 2.18 goals per game.

It won't help that center Mike Cammalleri, who is tied with rookie Sean Monahan for the team lead with 13 goals, is out indefinitely after he sustained a concussion Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"That's tough news for Cammalleri and for us," coach Bob Hartley said. "We all know what he represents for us."

With goals at a premium, the Flames are going to have to tighten up on defense. They did just that against Pittsburgh on Saturday and again Monday, when Karri Ramo earned his first NHL shutout in the Flames' 2-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"We had a tough week last week," center Mikael Backlund said. "It was huge for us to shut the door and score a couple. We had to go back to basics, starting against Pittsburgh. If you do that, eventually the goals are going to come."

The game Tuesday wraps up a quick two-game road trip.

Predators: Nashville has won once in its past seven games (1-3-3) and finds itself in 11th place in the Western Conference, 10 points behind eighth-place Minnesota. The Predators' inability to score on the power play has been a big reason for their recent struggles.

Still ranked seventh in the NHL (19.7 percent), the Predators have not scored with the man advantage in four straight games (0-for-8) and have one power-play goal in their past seven.

Coach Barry Trotz lamented a shortage of power-play opportunities.

"I look at it, probably our last six or seven games, and it's like one power play, two power plays, one power play. If we have a good night, there's three power plays," Trotz said Sunday after a 4-0 loss to the Wild. "Even, you know, the other teams aren't (getting many power plays). We must be playing really clean, both sides, because there's not a lot of penalties being called on either side."

At 2.0 goals per game in the new year, the Predators have fallen to 26th in the League in goals per game (2.32 per game).

Who's hot: Backlund has a goal in each of the past two games. … Predators center Craig Smith has three points (one goal) in the past four games.

Injury report: In addition to Cammalleri, the Flames will be without defenseman Kris Russell (MCL) and forwards Blair Jones (torn meniscus) and Curtis Glencross (ankle), all of whom are on injured reserve. Right wing David Jones (eye infection) has missed the past five games. … Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (hip) is on IR, but he took a step in his rehabilitation last week when he was cleared to resume weight-bearing exercises. He has been out since late October, when an E. coli infection developed in his hip following offseason surgery.

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