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Predators-Flames Preview

GAME: Nashville Predators (23-7-3) at Calgary Flames (21-11-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST.

The Nashville Predators hope to run their winning streak to six games as their five-game road trip continues against the Calgary Flames.

The Predators have played well offensively during the win streak, totaling 26 goals. More impressive is the balanced offensive production. Fifteen players have scored goals in the last five games, with Steve Sullivan totaling a team-high nine points with four goals and five assists.

Nashville went into the holiday break with consecutive road wins against Central Division opponents following its 5-4 victory Friday at Columbus. Paul Kariya had three first-period assists as the Predators built a 4-2 lead, and goaltender Tomas Vokoun stopped 26 of 28 shots over the final 40 minutes to preserve the win.

"It's a win and they're not always going to be perfect games," said Vokoun, who finished with 35 saves. "They were better than us but we found a way to win."

Defenseman Kimmo Timmonen has seven assists during his five-game points streak, and the Predators have gone 9-for-39 on the power play in that span. Nashville, which has the league's fifth-best power-play unit on the road, is 14-for-52 (26.9 percent) in its last seven road games with the man advantage.

This is the first of a three-game swing against Northwest Division opponents for Nashville, which also plays Wednesday at Vancouver and Friday at Edmonton.

The Flames moved into a tie atop the Northwest with a home-and-home sweep of the Vancouver Canucks. Robyn Regehr snapped a 1-1 deadlock with a power-play goal midway through the third period as Calgary showed it could win a tight defensive game less than 72 hours after winning a 6-5 shootout over Vancouver.

Calgary has the fourth-best home penalty-killing unit, conceding just three goals in 28 chances the last five games.

Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff is 12-3-2 with four shutouts, 1.60 goals-against average and .933 save percentage at home this season.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 26): Predators - 49 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Central Division. Flames - 46 points, 1st place (tied), Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Sullivan, 16 goals; Kimmo Timonen, 22 assists; Sullivan and Kariya, 33 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 87 PIM. Flames - Jarome Iginla, 15 goals, 15 assists and 30 points; Jason Wiemer, 65 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 26): Predators - Power play: 19.2 percent (43 for 224), tied for 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86 percent (191 for 222), 3rd. Flames - Power play: 16.3 percent (36 for 221), 17th. Penalty killing: 82.4 percent (183 for 222), tied for 14th.

GOALTENDERS: Predators - Vokoun (18-5-2, 1 SO, 2.52 GAA); Chris Mason (4-1-1, 0, 2.81). Flames - Kiprusoff (18-10-4, 5, 2.27); Philippe Sauve (3-1-0, 0, 2.32).

SEASON SERIES: Predators, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 29; Predators, 2-0. At Nashville, Tenn., Vokoun made 31 saves for his lone shutout this season, and Vernon Fiddler had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who killed off six Flames' power plays.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 7-4-3 on the road; Flames - 12-3-2 at home.

Associated Press
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