Predators 6, Flames 5 Recap

Despite an impressive offensive outburst from the never-say-die Flames tonight, the home team couldn't keep the puck out of their own net in Kenny Agostino's NHL debut against the Nashville Predators.

It looked like it was going to be one of those nights. The Flames got off to a good start, applying a lot of pressure in the Predators' zone, and rookie Kenny Agostino headed straight for the net moments after the puck dropped on the opening faceoff. Mikael Backlund and Mike Cammalleri as well as Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie were part of what looked like a promising early push by the home team, but then just over five minutes into the opening frame, Victor Bartley beat Joni Ortio for his first-ever NHL goal to give Nashville a 1-0 lead.

Then, just 0:49 seconds later, Shea Weber took advantage of the disoriented Flames, caught up ice in the offensive zone, and scored to put his team up 2-0, despite being tackled by Curtis Glencorss in the process.

After allowing two goals on the first four shots against, things were not looking promising for the Flames, but they turned their fortunes around in the second half of the period. After a quiet opening frame in terms of penalties, the Predators were the benefactors of the first call of the night, which saw Agostino spend two minutes in the box serving a too many men penalty for his team.

Right after the Flames killed that one off, Colin Wilson was penalized for holding the stick, and it was Calgary's turn on the powerplay. Just 19 seconds into the man advantage, Kris Russell received a pass from Giordano and fired a slapshot past Pekka Rinne, who was being screened by an expertly-placed Backlund, to bring the Flames to within one at the tail end of the opening frame. Shots were 9-6 for the home team in the first period, but they still had ground to make up heading into the first intermission.

The start to the second period was not a promising one for the Flames, as Patric Honqvist scored just over four minutes in to restore the Predators' two-goal lead.

The lead would be short-lived for Nashville, however, as a flurry of activity followed in the next few minutes. A perfect pass to a streaking Cammalleri from Kris Russel for the defenceman's second point of the game again brought the Flames to within one. Then, just one minute later, Mark Giordano's blast from the point was tipped in by Jiri Hudler and beat a screened Rinne to knot the game at 3-3.

The tie would also prove to be short-lived, as Viktor Stalberg stuffed the puck past Ortio and the post after the Flames' goalie made the initial save to put the Preds back up 4-3. That would be the end of Joni Ortio's night; the rookie 'tender would be replaced by veteran Joey MacDonald after he allowed four goals on 13 shots, without much help from his defencemen.

The action continued at a high back-and-forth pace after the goalie change. Following a blocked shot by Tyler Wotherspoon, the Flames were able to get the puck out of their zone, and after a pass from Lance Bouma, Mikael Backlund promptly got to work in front of the net. It paid off, as Rinne failed to get a handle on the puck and Backlund scored to tie the game at four a piece. Calgary's fourth goal on 18 shots also chased Rinne from the net, and he was replaced by Carter Hutton. The Flames narrowly out-shot the Preds 10-9 in the middle frame, but five goals on just 19 combined shots in the second period was a sure-fire indication that whichever team could stop the bleeding first would come away with the victory on this night.

Both teams slowed things down significantly in the third period, and neither team would score a goal until the latter half of the final frame. The Flames had a decent chance with six and a half minutes left in the period when Glencross hit the side of the net, and his resulting frustration led to a trademark dumb offensive zone penalty that sent the Preds to the powerplay shortly thereafter. Queue another Shea Weber goal with the man advantage, as the defenceman scored on a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle that beat MacDonald five hole with five and a half minutes remaining.

Less than three minutes later, MacDonald was beaten again by Matt Cullen, who scored his fourth point of the night when he snuck in behind the Flames' defence and tipped in a shot by Roman Josi. The Flames were quick to respond, and Cammalleri scored 30 seconds later to bring the home team back to within one--or so it would seem. Cammalleri's point-blank shot from the slot appeared to get caught in Hutton's equipment as it crossed the line, but following a review, the play was ruled a goal and the Flames continued to press for the tying goal for the sixth time in the game.

MacDonald was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:30 remaining, but despite a frantic 90 seconds of 6-on-5 action in the Predators zone, in the end the Flames had sacrificed one goal too many, and their surging offence couldn't keep up with their suddenly leaky defence. The Flames outshot Nashville 10-7 in the final frame and 29-22 overall, but just couldn't plug up the holes fast enough against an offensively-challenged team.

After the game, the team announced that Joni Ortio has been re-assigned to the Abbotsford Heat with Karri Ramo expected to return to action promptly.

The Flames are back at it tomorrow night when they pay a visit to the Edmonton Oilers.

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