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Flames use third-period outburst to top Predators

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- A rash of injuries couldn't slow down the youth of the Calgary Flames.

Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan each had a goal and an assist, and Jonas Hiller made 28 saves to help the Flames rally for a 4-3 win against the Nashville Predators at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

"You get more opportunity, and at the end of the day those are the times you've got to step up and show what you're made of," Monahan said. "Together as a team, that's how you win games. I think we stuck together. That's kind of our philosophy here. We have good leadership and good guys to lean on.

"That's a big help for us and that's really going to help us down the road."

The Flames entered the game without Mikael Backlund (abdominal strain), Matt Stajan (lower body) and Joe Colborne (upper body), three of their top four forwards in faceoffs taken this season. All three played in Calgary's 2-1 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday; Backlund was the only one to finish the game.

"Obviously you're going to feel pressure but I think that's the time for you to step up," Monahan said. "I think we didn't do the greatest down the middle tonight but I think we got a lot better and I got a lot better myself."

Calgary, also without Mason Raymond (shoulder), had called up Michael Ferland from the Adirondack Flames of the American Hockey League for his first career NHL game. But Ferland left in the second period after sustaining an upper-body injury and did not return.

"The young man was so excited," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "Before the game, I go to him and said, 'Ferly, did you have a good nap?' He said, 'Ya, ya.' I said, 'Did you sleep?' He said no.

"I guess it wasn't that good of a nap but he was so excited and it's too bad that he couldn't finish the game, but we're going to get him back on his feet and he'll be good to go."

The Central Division-leading Predators (6-2-2) continue their six-game road trip Sunday against the Vancouver Canucks. They've split the first two games in Alberta, losing to the Flames after beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Wednesday.

"They came out strong," said Predators coach Peter Laviolette, who coached Gaudreau with the United States team at the IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus, in May. "They capitalized on a couple plays. Johnny Gaudreau was good for a time span in the third period, dangerous with the puck and making things happen. It was a bad four minutes. We were pressing the whole night, threw so many pucks at the net, opportunities at the net and couldn't seem to pull away. They caught us."

"He's a good player. Good players do that. They can change a game."

It was Markus Granlund, also recalled from Adirondack, who helped set up the first of three goals in a 4:01 span to start Calgary's comeback from a 2-1 third-period deficit. Granlund sent a cross-crease feed to Jiri Hudler, who tapped his third goal behind Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne at 2:36 to tie the game. Gaudreau had the second assist on the play.

"Certainly, in the third period, he was flying," Hartley said of Gaudreau. "Along with [Granlund] and [Hudler], their line was clicking. They were moving the puck well. They're three good skaters with unbelievable hockey sense. They're capable of making plays. They're capable of shooting. They were a big part of why we're leaving with two points."

Calgary went ahead at 4:23. With Nashville's Mattias Ekholm in the penalty box, TJ Brodie's centering feed to David Jones deflected off a defender in front of the net and went behind Rinne to give Calgary a 3-2 lead. It was Brodie's fourth of the season.

Gaudreau made it 4-2 at 6:37 when he fired a sharp-angled shot over Rinne's shoulder, prompting a timeout from the Predators. With an assist on the play, defenseman Deryk Engelland had his first point with the Flames.

"My goal, I was just driving down the left side of the rink and just tried to take a quick shot on net," Gaudreau said. "I think it caught him off guard a little bit. I managed to get a win. Overall I think I'm trying to get better defensively and I've been talking with the coaching staff about that. It's good to create some more offense and do a good job in the defensive zone."

Gaudreau's goal stood as the game-winner because Nashville cut the deficit to one goal at 10:47. With Hudler in the penalty box and the puck deep in the Calgary zone, James Neal circled back up top and snapped his second goal of the game past Hiller's glove. It was his team-high seventh goal.

The Predators pulled Rinne late in favor of the extra attacker but couldn't get the equalizer.

Gaudreau, the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner, was buzzing from the opening faceoff and generated the first good scoring chance of the game. He carried the puck through the neutral zone, dropped a shoulder before stepping untouched around Predators defenseman Anton Volchenkov and raced in alone on Rinne. But the Predators goaltender threw a pad out at 13:06 to keep the game scoreless.

Rinne thwarted Gaudreau again when he sprawled to stop the rookie's backhander from in tight after a Mark Giordano centering feed with 44 seconds remaining in the period.

"It's about momentum," Hartley said. "Whenever you can control the puck, that's the best defense. You don't have to spend time in your zone. You make plays. You're creative. We encourage everyone on the team to do this ...

"Tonight, it was Halloween dance for Johnny. He was dancing."

Each team hit a goal post early in the second period, but Monahan's perseverance paid off with the game's first goal.

With Nashville's Colin Wilson in the penalty box, Monahan's first shot hit the post, but he followed it up by corralling the rebound of Dennis Wideman's shot and beating Rinne at 4:23.

Nashville needed 67 seconds to get even. Ryan Ellis' point shot didn't make it all the way to the net, but Craig Smith found the puck and lifted his fourth goal over a sprawled Hiller.

Nashville went ahead 2-1 at 11:09 when Mike Ribeiro won an offensive-zone draw cleanly onto the stick of Neal, who fired a shot through Hiller.

"For two periods, I loved the way we played," Neal said. "In this league, if a team hangs around long enough and gets a few bounces, they're right back in it and gives themselves some life. It's just that six minutes in that third period where they got some life and we just couldn't get it back. Other than that, I liked the way we play on the road and it's a tough loss when you feel like you deserve better."

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