Gas Tank Runs Dry, Preds Win in Heartbreaker
Predators 4 - Flames 3

D'Arcy McGrath
December 27, 2005

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Some nights you wonder about hype.

You wonder about statements like "back to back nights" and how much it can actually matter when you remember tournaments as a kid that had nine games in 36 hours.

Yet there are nights when it seems painfully obvious that they may be on to something. That night was tonight.

The Flames and Predators as odd a couple as you'll find in the list of ongoing rivalries in the NHL, didn't disappoint in this one. Fights, hits, scuffles, shoves, penalties, goals, saves and a come from behind 4-3 Predator victory made attendance worth the admission in this one.

On The Line

Is there ever going to be a game where we can honestly state ... NOTHING? Not a chance. The ultra tight Western Conference and an imbalanced schedule pretty much assures LOTS is on the line each and every night out. Ask the players to a man if they'd prefer to sweep Vancouver in Vancouver and then lose one to Nashville and they'd all agree up front, but having won the first two a win against Nashville would have put the club all alone in first in the Northwest.

The Flow

A tale of three games with three dominant parties each owning their own chapter. The Flames feasted in the first, putting the boots to the Preds and skating away with a 2-0 lead. The referees had their time to shine in the second, especially in jumping on Bryan Marchment for four minutes in a series that could easily have resulted in nothing. And a third period where the Predators took the wind out of the Calgary sails and had their way with their hosts.

Three Stars

1 Vernon Fidler Alberta product scored only once, his only point, but led the visitors in chances, and jump in a very impressive display by the rookie. .
2 Paul Hamhuis.  WHL grad was rock steady on the blueline, thwarting the Flames at every turn as they tried to either further a lead, or get back into it after falling behind.

3 Shean Donovan.  Gets the nod on flash and try, despite another night without hitting the score sheet. Donovan was in and around the puck all night and should have had a handful of points.

Big Hit

Lots of contact in this one, including a shaken up Pred in the first period (was that Steve Sullivan?). Robyn Regehr got all of Greg Johnson, Chris Simon punished Ryan Suter in the third, but the hit of the night would have to fall to Jordan TooToo's 2nd period demolition of Jordan Leopold between the two player benches.

Big Save

I'd like to give the nod to Phil Sauve for his flurry of saves late in the first period to keep the Predators at zero while shorthanded, but Tomas Vokoun simply robbed Jarome Iginla in the second when the Calgary captain picked up a rebound and went high only to have Vokoun come across and get a body on the labeled puck.

The Goat

No punches held this time ... Jarome Iginla. Close game, coming off an average game in Vancouver last night, and once again #12 was a complete no show. At least this time around he was cut back on ice time by the coaching staff to show their displeasure, including a stretch in the second that seemed to reach almost ten minutes. It's gone on too long. He's either hurt or seriously disinterested, because if you didn't know to look for that jersey number you'd never notice the player at all.

Mr. Clutch

The Nashville defence corps, that bent early, but didn't break, only to come off the carpet and be a force in leading the Predators back for a win. They're not the biggest crew in the league, but they move the puck very well under pressure.

Odds and Ends

Jarome Iginla was stripped back to 17 minutes of ice time tonight, about six minutes or seven to eight shifts light of his usual load. On the surface that sounds like a really big deal, but only one Calgary forward had more ice than the captain, and that was Marcus Nilson with only six more seconds. If they want to send a message they may want to cut a tad deeper. ... Phil Sauve was up to the challenge in this one, but couldn't hold them in when the Vancouver game caught up to them. Two points if Kiprusoff was in net? Have to wonder. But the guy can't play all of them. ... Anyone else wonder if that Donovan burst shorthanded with Bryan Marchment in the box would have been the difference if converted? Something to see. ... And speaking of Bryan Marchment, was that a reputation call that had him off for four minutes without a punch thrown in the second? About ten minutes later Scott Upshall came over and shoved Chuck Kobasew in the face but didn't get either the roughing or unsportsmanlike conduct call that Marchment was handed. The Predators scored two second period powerplay goals, one with Marchment off, the other when Upshall's shove didn't even up an obvious chance to call both guys. Inconsistency. ... If the Flames win that one you'd see Andrew Ference with the gold goblet on his skull. ... Sutter brought the ice time of the Lombardi/Kobasew duo up considerably from the Vancouver games because they had good zip and seemed to own the boards down low. Byron Ritchie was their pivot tonight with Lombardi moving over to the wing. When that duo learns how to turn a great cycle into someone bringing it to the paint the Flames may finally land some depth scoring. ... Shame that Steve Reinprecht's only hit this season almost put Tony Amonte on the DL. ... 

Next up The Minnesota Wild play in Edmonton tomorrow night before venturing to Calgary to play the Flames on Thursday night.

Lines - (variations of)

Huselius- Langkow- Nilson
Amonte- Reinprecht- Iginla
Lombardi-Ritchie- Kobasew
Simon - Wiemer - Donovan








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