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Arnott, Weber lead Preds past Flames

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

Jason Arnott and Miikka Kiprusoff
Photo by John Russell
Predators forward Jason Arnott (left), who posted two goals and an assist against Calgary Thursday, watches as one of Nashville's six goals beats Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff.

The Nashville Predators defeated the Calgary Flames 6-3 Thursday night at Nashville Arena. Defenseman Shea Weber and forward Jason Arnott each notched two goals for Nashville, as the Predators outscored the Flames 2-1 in each period.

With the win, which snapped a five-game win streak for Calgary, Nashville improves to 45-18-6 and takes a three-point lead over Detroit and Buffalo for the top spot in the NHL. The Predators' next game is at home on Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Game time is 7:00 p.m. CT and a limited number of tickets remain.

Midway through the second period Thursday, Nashville's Ramzi Abid scored his first of the season off a nice shot from the right circle. Vern Fiddler headmanned the puck to Abid in the neutral zone and Abid, playing in his second game of the season for Nashville, carried it in on the right wing. His wrister from the circle beat Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff high to the far side at 9:22 to make it 3-1 for Nashville.

Calgary captain Jarome Iginla scored his second of the night to cut it to 3-2 at 16:40. The puck was tied up in the slot until Kristian Huselius popped it left to Iginla for a blistering shot from the left circle that eluded Predators goaltender Chris Mason.

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With less than two minutes remaining in the second period, defenseman Vitaly Vishnevsky stepped up to deliver a big hit on Tony Amonte. Mark Giordano objected to the legal hit and went after Vishnevksy, earning a roughing penalty for dropping his gloves as Vishnevsky kept his composure. Robyn Regehr joined his teammate in the box 15 seconds later after being whistled for hooking. Weber capitalized on the ensuing 5-on-3 power play when he held in Roman Hamrlik's attempted clear at the left point and leaned into a slapper that beat Kiprusoff to the far side with just two seconds left in the period. 

Weber again capitalized on a 5-on-3 advantage 2:33 into the third, after Hamrlik and Brad Stuart took penalties 13 seconds apart. Nashville captain Kimmo Timonen fed Weber for a one-timer from the left point that blew past Kiprusoff 10 seconds into the two-man power play.

Jeff Friesen backhanded a rebound by Mason at 6:36 to cut the Nashville lead to two goals once again, but Arnott finished off his second succesful breakaway against Kiprusoff at 7:22 of the final period by pulling the puck to his left and slipping it into the net on his backhand.

The score was 2-1 in favor of Nashville after 20 minutes and all three goals came in a span of 1:04. Ryan Suter and Arnott scored the first two just 23 seconds apart.

Highlights of Predators vs. Flames, March 8, 2007 (1:26)

Predators head coach Barry Trotz, postgame press conference, March 8, 2007 (5:40)

Suter put the Predators up 1-0 at 11:31 after Arnott won a face-off in the right circle of the offensive zone. Arnott pulled the draw back to Suter who walked off the right boards, took a couple of strides parallel to the blue line and launched a shot through slot traffic. After putting Nashville on the board, Suter and the same four skaters remained on the ice for the ensuing face-off. Seconds after play resumed, Dumont took the puck away from Calgary in the neutral zone and fed it up to Arnott who had a step on the defense. Arnott broke in on the right wing, faked a shot and then executed a quick deke to shovel the puck through Kiprusoff's legs at 11:54.

Iginla got one back for his club on the next shift, finishing off a break down the left wing at 12:35 to make it 2-1. Iginla's shot went to the right of Mason and was nearly pulled off the goal line by defenseman Dan Hamhuis. The play was close enough that video review was needed to confirm the goal had indeed crossed the line completely.

Nashville outshot Calgary 14-13 in the feisty first period. Nashville had some of the better chances over the first 10 minutes, with David Legwand setting up Timonen at around 2:05 and Martin Erat at 7:10. Both shooters fired just wide, and at 9:15 Arnott tipped Vishnevsky's point pass wide before Alexander Radulov was set up for a scoring bid that was swallowed up by Kiprusoff. At the other end, Mason was tested by Craig Conroy after a scramble in front of the Nashville net near the 7:30 mark, but Mason kicked Conroy's chance aside with his right leg pad. Conroy hit the post from the left circle at 16:00 of the first period.

NOTES: The Predators are 6-0-3 over their last nine games... Nashville tallied two power-play goals Thursday and now has nine power-play goals in the last six games... Shea Weber scored twice, including the game-winner, and now has two two-goal performances in the last four games... Jason Arnott collected two goals and an assist and has four points (3g-1a) in two games since returning from a bout with the flu... Ryan Suter scored his first goal since Jan. 15. That goal was also against Calgary... Kimmo Timonen registered an assist and extended his points streak to seven games. He has 9 points (1g-8a) during teh streak... J.P. Dumont contributed two assists and now had 13 points (6g-7a) in the last 10 games... Chris Mason stopped 28 shots for his third straight win... Nashville outscored Calgary 2-1 in the first period and has outscored opponents by a combined 84-50 in the first period. The Predators outscored the Flames 2-1 in the second as well, and now hold an 87-54 margin over opponents in the second period... Nashville outshot Calgary 36-31. Nashville is now 17-4-1 when outshooting opponents... The Predators are 35-8-3 when scoring first and 24-5-4 at home... Nashville dominated Calgary in the face-off circle, winning 63 percent of the draws. Four of Nashville's five face-off men won over 60 percent of their face-offs taken... Scratches for Nashville were Marek Zidlicky, Scott Nichol, Peter Forsberg and Steve Sullivan.

Post-Game Comments

General game impressions
I was concerned first game back, playing a very good team and being shorthanded in some areas. We came pretty well and obviously got rolling with the 2 goals. And when they got their goal, we weren't really nervous, we just said keep playing and going forward.

Post-Game Interviews:

Chris Mason  (1:44)

Jason Arnott  (1:31)

Shea Weber  (1:12)

Jordin Tootoo  (1:52)

Head Coach Barry Trotz  (5:39)

We got good contributions - I thought Arnott's line was excellent, they had a number of chances. Obviously Arnott stepped up and got a couple big goals, he could have had five today. I thought some of our soldiers did a great job. Ramzi had a good game. I though Tootoo was outstanding, he was on the puck, he was dangerous. I thought we were pretty disciplined; we only took two penalties until right at the end. A real good solid effort from everybody. I thought Mason made some big saves when we needed. The defense held strong when we needed. Weber got the two goals when we were five-on-three, those were obviously huge. And they were a good team; they're big, they're physical, they have a lot of ability on the ice, and I thought we responded pretty good tonight.

On the topic of Tootoo's performance
That's the type of game we expect from Jordin. He's getting confidence, he's getting an opportunity to play, he's been a real force. And that's great to see.

On the topic of setting up Weber on the power play
They didn't have much rotation on their penalty kill, and just left him open. You just take what they give you.

On coming back from losing in a shootout at Detroit
I think we were pretty happy with the points in Detroit, even though we didn't get the win, but both teams were missing a lot of guys and we played them pretty hard. I don't know if we'd call it much of a 'bounce back,' but it's definite good to get home and get the first game.

On winning without going into overtime or a shootout
It seems like we've been having a lot of those lately. It was good to kind of close it out in the third period.

On Calgary being a 'scrappy' team
They are definitely a scrappy team. That's how they play. They have their coach and they have Sutter there and that's just how they play; it's typical western Canadian hockey.

On playing focused
We made it a point not to get caught up in all that. That's usually happens when teams get off the road; they kind of sink back. We had a tough road trip and we tried to look at this as another road game and play it through that way.

On the difference between a road game and a home game
It's the other team's building, so it's a lot different. You're playing in front of their fans. It's definitely nice to be home and playing in front of our supportive fans.

On his goal at the end of the second period
Every goal is a momentum booster. The game goes back-and-forth. I think that for us getting one going into the third period was a little bit of a boost for us. We tried to stay positive and made sure we didn't let them back in the game.

On scoring six goals against Kiprusoff
He's one of the best goalies in the world. They all have their off nights. We got a lot of screens in front of him that he didn't see. A lot of the time, those go in and fortunately they went in for us.

On the Predators 5-on-3 power-plays in the game
It was huge. With the two big shots from (Weber), it really helped us out.

On scoring his 300th career goal
Getting the win was huge for us, milestones come and go. We want to make sure we are playing well down the stretch here, especially in our own rink and especially against a good team like Calgary. They've been on a roll. It was a solid game.

Overall game
"Yeah we just made some mistakes.  First period, I think the two goals that they got were very preventable by us.  We unfortunately gave them and just battling from behind the whole time. Couldn't seem to sustain any pressure when we did get some plays down low."

On whether it was a frustrating game
"Oh very, yeah.  We were really fully expecting to come in here and play a really good solid road game and get a win....we just couldn't do it."

On the 5 on 3's
"They are tough to come back from when they score especially with 2 seconds left in the 2nd period.  But I thought the game was still there for us. In the 3rd period we got into some penalty problems."

Overall game
"A couple turnovers, a couple 5-on-3's its hard to beat a team like that when you are sitting in the box"

Special teams the difference?
"Yeah that was definitely.  When we are down 5-on-4 and were taking penalties to go 5-on-3 it's a hardship.  Especially a team like that, best team in the league. They are going to hurt you.  We thought we were going to get away, out of that second period being down just 1 goal, they pot one with 2 seconds left going into the 3rd and kinda opened it up."

Road Trip
"All in all it's a pretty good road trip. But sour taste tonight. Just get back and regroup tomorrow."

Take on Nashville
"Obviously they are tough to play against everybody in the league.  They are number one in the league.  They are a good team, they play hard, they are good defensively. They got a great transition game and that's where they seem to get most of their opportunities."

Penalties the cause of the loss?
"Absolutely, absolutely.  I thought our discipline was not consistently strong enough and it cost us the hockey game."

Speed of Nashville make it tough to fight back?
"No, it's the unnecessary penalties, it's the unforced turnovers... it's what we didn't do consistently to give ourselves a chance."


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