Flames Deep Six Predators

Battle for Sixth to Calgary on C&W Night

January 22nd, 2004

The Flames of December finally decided to put in an appearance in January.

Aside from the opening moments of the first period, Calgary cruised through their crucial Western Conference matchup with Nashville last night, pounding the visiting Predators 4-0 in a fight filled contest in front of 16,629 at the Saddledome.

The Flames could do little wrong in blowing out opponents seemingly at will through December in spite of a spate of injuries, yet their January to date has been generally uneven, Calgary only periodically showing the consistent defensive game that had propelled them to the upper reaches of the NHL ranks.

After going 11-3-1 in December, Calgary has settled into an anemic "win one, lose one" pattern, now 5-5-1 in the current month.

The slide had seemingly only gotten worse in the last week, with Calgary surrendering 30 or more shots against Dallas, Anaheim and Los Angeles, winning only once and being late out of the gate in all three, falling behind early.

Flames limited the Predators, unbeaten in their last seven, to only 23 shots last night as the much-maligned Roman Turek settled down with the rest of his teammates, shutting out the Predators for the sixth time in his career.

Shean Donovan and Matthew Lombardi each scored twice for Calgary, both picking up the pace in what had been lengthy goal scoring droughts.

Donovan had scored only once in his last 19 games while Lombardi had tallied just three times in his previous 30 games.

The victory leaves the Flames 24-16-4-3 on the season for 55 points, pushing Calgary past the Predators into sixth spot in the NHL's Western Conference.

Flames are two points behind idle St. Louis for fifth spot and four points up on Los Angeles for eighth place, the Kings playing later in the evening.

Ninth place Dallas is now five points in the rear-view mirror with Calgary having two games in hand.

The deterioration in Calgary's overall team game might well have been expected given their epic run in December and operating on the theory that every season has hills and valleys.

Coach Darryl Sutter had earlier challenged the veterans in the locker room to take charge of a sinking ship in the absence of injured leaders Stephane Yelle and Dave Lowry.

With that slap in the face and the obvious stinker in LA still reverberating in their noggins, Calgary took charge of this game almost from the opening minutes, winning the small battles all over the ice and beating a fast team to the puck on most occasions.

"The first shot of the night was a big save," analyzed Turek of a one-timer that bounced off his shoulder and rang the post behind him. "If they had scored there it might have been a different game."

"It's always a nice feeling for a goalie when you get a shutout," he said. "It's a huge game for me and a huge game for the team.

"I felt pretty comfortable. I saw most of the shots all the way."

Calgary directed 28 shots at the Nashville combination of Vokoun and Chris Mason, the former pulled after the fourth Calgary goal in the second period.

For the Flames, this was also a dominating performance on special teams, Calgary punishing the Predators early with two power play goals then putting the game away with a shorthanded marker early in the second period. Flames finished the game two for eight with the man advantage while the Predators were zero for three.

Lombardi opened scoring on the power play at 10:11 of the first, one-timing a brilliant cross ice pass from Steve Reinprecht past Tomas Vokoun, named earlier to the Western Conference All-Star team.

It was the first time in five games the Flames had scored the first goal.

Donovan added to the Calgary lead, also on the powerplay, at 14:12 when he found himself alone with Vokoun and whacked the puck past the down and out Nashville netminder.

Donovan then killed the Predators with a shorthanded marker at 5:45 of the second, a terrible goal by Vokoun who was well back in his net and obviously not expecting the rocket that came and caught the joint between the crossbar and the post.

Lombardi finished scoring at 11:11 of the second in a goal mouth scramble, Vokoun going for a walkabout and then scrambling back to his crease too late.

As might be expected of the two teams at the top of the fight standings, this one produced five bouts with Krzyzstof Oliwa doing the expected and duking twice with Chuck Kobasew, of all people, also tossing the knuckles.

Jordan Tootoo of the Predators went from being the hunter, tracking and badgering Dean McAmmond, to the hunted when Jarome Iginla stepped in and dropped the gloves. Iginla ended up getting cut in the resulting battle.






1) Shean Donovan - Using his speed all night, his second goal of the game, a brilliant shorthanded snap shot just inside the crossbar and post, broke the back of the Predators in the second period. 

2) Matthew Lombardi - At the start of the year, pundits had counted the emergence of Kobasew and Oleg Saprykin as a key to Calgary's post-season chances. While Saprykin is enjoying an uneven emergence, Kobasew has struggled, meaning the 11 goals from the unexpected Lombardi all the more important . . . . . and welcome. 

3) Roman Turek - Not particularly tested but made the saves when he had to. . . . and he got the shutout. No complaints tonight.

The first shot of the game was a one-timer from the slot that Turek caught partly with his shoulder and enjoyed some luck as it clanged the post behind him. From there, it was pretty easy for him.

In a surprisingly light hitting affair Jordan Tootoo flattened Oleg Saprykin in the early moments of the first period before the latter took revenge late in the game, knocking Tootoo to the ice in an incident that earned both penalties.

Jarome Iginla was named to the Western Conference All-Star team prior to the game . . . . . . . Calgary's local animal, Kobasew, went after first Dan Hamhuis and then Nashville tough guy Scott Walker, apparently trying to send a message to coach Darryl Sutter that he wants to be noticed. . . . .The Flames lead the NHL with 48 fighting majors, two ahead of Nashville. . . . . . Oliwa pounded Jeremy Stevensen late in the game, having fought Jim McKenzie earlier.........Conroy has six assists in three games since his return from a knee injury . . . . Andrew Ference, roughed up in the papers by Sutter earlier in the day, was a healthy scratch, replaced by Steve Montador. Josh Green was the other healthy scratch. . . . . . Jordan Leopold logged 25:11 in ice time in leading the Flames. The invisible Jason York led the Predators with 25:12 in ice time . . . . . . Calgary was 65% in the faceoff circle led by Conroy at 77%. David Legwand was the best the Predators could offer at 44% . . . . The hobbled Iginla logged only 17:26 in ice time, about four minutes less than usual. Robyn Regehr, an uncertain starter, put in 22:11 in ice time.

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