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The Week Ah-Pred: Jan. 21

by Jimi Russell / Nashville Predators

As the Nashville Predators get ready head out to Western Canada, let’s take a look back as the Preds wrapped up a period that saw them played seven times in 12 days, including three games last week.

Nashville started off the week on Tuesday night against Calgary, dousing the Flames 4-2 at Bridgestone Arena. Shea Weber, who was named an alternate captain for Team Canada on Sunday, got things started when he blasted a slap shot past goaltender Karri Ramo. The Flames responded just three minutes later on a goal from Lee Stempniak.

After a scoreless middle frame, the Preds started handing out goals like Oprah in the third, as Ryan Ellis got a goal, and Craig Smith got a power-play goal, and Viktor Stalberg got a goal, to give the Preds the 4-1 advantage. Calgary would score late, but the Preds three-goal third was too much to overcome.

The Preds traveled to the City of Brotherly Love on Thursday to take on the Flyers. It only took 1:26 for the Flyers to score, but the Preds answered with goals from Eric Nystrom and David Legwand. After Philly tied the game late in the second, Weber put his team back on top a little more than five minutes into the third on a blast from the point, but Wayne Simmonds tied the game again on an extra-attacker goal with less than two minutes remaining to force overtime.

In the overtime session, the Preds kept the pressure on, as Craig Smith rung a shot off the post midway through the five minute period, but the shootout was required to determine a winner.

The word shootout may have caused some Preds fans to cringe, as Nashville was winless in the post-overtime tie breaker up until that point, but Thursday would be different.

After the first four shooters were thwarted, Brayden Schenn put the Flyers in front after beating Carter Hutton. Matt Cullen used several good stickhandling moves and roofed a shot over Philly netminder Steve Mason to keep the ball rolling.

After Sean Couturier bested Hutton to put the Flyers ahead again, coach Trotz called on defenseman Ryan Ellis to match the goal. Ellis skated in, made a couple of dekes and shelved a backhand shot past Mason to tie things again.

Hutton stopped Simmonds on the Flyers next attempt, leaving the final shot to Roman Josi. The Swiss defenseman, taking his second career shootout attempt, skated in, faked the shot and slid the puck through Mason’s wickets for the win.

The Preds stumbled out of the blocks on Saturday against Colorado, but a strong third period effort got the team within striking distance before they fell to the Avalanche, 5-4, at Bridgestone Arena.

The Avs jumped out early with three quick goals in the first period on goals from Nick Holden, Jan Hejda and Gabriel Landeskog.

Nashville closed the gap to 3-1 in the second period with the help of a four-minute power play. With Landeskog in the box for elbowing Ryan Ellis, and Erik Johnson off for roughing after a fight with Paul Gaustad, the Preds found the back of the net in 35 seconds, when Mike Fisher fed Patric Hornqvist in the goalmouth.

Colorado would score twice early in the third period to make it a 5-1 game, but the momentum shifted in Nashville’s favor when Smith stuffed home a rebound of a shot to make it 5-2. The ice continued to tilt in the Preds direction after Ellis scored from the point with 7:15 remaining, and Josi posted his second point of the period with a goal with less than three minutes remaining to pull the Preds within one.

Nashville piled up scoring chances in the final two minutes with Dubnyk pulled, but the effort was all for naught as the Avs held on for the victory.

In other news last week...
David Poile decided to shake things up a little bit on Wednesday when he traded for goaltender Devan Dubnyk, sending Matt Hendricks to the Oilers for the 6-6 netminder. Dubnyk came to the Preds with 171 career starts - that was 170 more than the previous Preds duo had entering the season.

Nashville Predators at Vancouver Canucks – Thursday, Jan. 23 – 9 p.m. CT
(FOX Sports TN and 102.5 The Game)

      Dudley Do Right/Jay Ward
The Preds travel to Vancouver on Thursday night for the first of two games in the Pacific Northwest. They’ll return to Vancouver on March 19. Vancouver has won four straight against the Preds dating back to Feb. 22, 2013. Nashville has posted a 20-30-(3)-4 record against the Canucks all-time, including a 9-17-(1)-0 mark at Rogers Arena.

In their last meeting on Dec. 3 at Bridgestone Arena, the teams played to a scoreless tie after 20 minutes before Brad Richardson and Colin Wilson traded goals in the middle frame. Ryan Kesler took control in the third, scoring twice for the Canucks in a 3-1 victory over the Preds.

The teams combined for 11 goals in a 7-4 Vancouver victory in the Preds last trip to Rogers Arena. The Canucks jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first five minutes, and held a 3-1 advantage after the first. The teams traded goals just 29 seconds apart in the second, but a late goal saw Vancouer take the 5-2 lead into the final frame. Mike Fisher and Gabriel Bourque pulled the Preds within one with less than five minutes remaining, but a Henrik Sedin penalty-shot goal and a David Booth empty-netter widen the final margin to 7-4.

Nashville Predators at Calgary Flames – Friday, Jan. 24 – 8 p.m. CT
(FOX Sports TN and 102.5 The Game)

After playing in Nashville a little more than a week ago, the Preds stop by the Saddledome for the first of two meetings in Cowtown. Nashville has garnered points in three straight games against Calgary, but they have not won on Saddledome ice since Oct. 22, 2011 – a 2-0 win. The Preds are 10-11-(3)-3 in Calgary all-time.

In their last meeting in Calgary on March 15, 2013, the Flames downed the Preds 6-3 on a Curtis Glencross third-period hat trick. Calgary jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the 3:38 mark of the second period before Gabriel Bourque got the Preds on the board with a power-play goal. The Preds scored twice in the third period on goals from Mike Fisher and David Legwand, but Glencross took over en route to the 6-3 win.

Nashville Predators at Edmonton Oilers – Sunday, Jan. 26 – 7 p.m. CT
(FOX Sports TN and 102.5 The Game)

The Preds and Oilers meet for the first of two meetings at Rexall Place, as Devan Dubnyk faces off against his old club. Nashville is 15-9-(1)-2 in 27 all-time trips to Edmonton.

The first tilt between these two teams this season came on Turkey Day in Nashville, when Ilya Bryzgalov shutout the Preds in his first start with the Oilers.

In their last trip to Rexall Place on March 17, 2013, a shorthanded goal from Lennart Petrell proved to be the difference marker in 3-2 Edmonton victory. The teams traded power-play goals in the middle frame, before Petrell and Jordan Eberle pushed the Oilers lead to 3-1 early in the third. Roman Josi scored an extra-attacker goal with 10 seconds remaining, but the Oil held on for the win.

Pekka Rinne is on IR with a hip injury.

Felix Girard (fourth round/2013) recorded two assists in both games for Baie-Comeau this weekend - a 6-4 win over Gatineau on Friday and a 5-2 win over Shawinigan on Saturday. Girard, who leads the QMJHL in face-off efficiency (65.1 percent) and ranks second in draws won (568), won an astounding 33-of-39 face-offs in the two outings (84.6 percent). The Drakkar’s captain has 29 points (5g-24a) and a +16 rating in 37 games this season.

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 20: David Legwand #11 of the Nashville Predators leads the team to warm-ups wearing military jerseys for Hometown Hero Night against the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena on January 20, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

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