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The Flames opened the scoring on a goal by TJ Brodie six minutes into last night's contest in Nashville, but it didn't take long for David Legwand to tie things up with his 12th goal of the year.
Nashville dominated the rest of the game in terms of shots on goal, out-shooting Calgary 22-9, but the Flames somehow managed to keep it close despite the goon-a-palooza that characterized Calgary's side of things--Akim Aliu and Brian McGrattan spent a total of 14 minutes in the sin bin in this one. Roman Cervenka scored to restore the Flames' lead at 7:06 of the second period, but that was the last time the Flames would enjoy the advantage in this hockey game. Nick Spaling scored a powerplay goal with Akim Aliu off for tripping to tie the game up for the Preds with just ninety seconds remaining in the middle frame.
In the third period, Austin Watson and Canadian Hero Matt Halischuk scored just over a minute apart to make it 4-2 for the home team early on. Cervenka scored his second of the game to bring the Flames within one, but a late penalty by Mark Cundari quashed any hopes of a Flames comeback.
Sven Baertschi had two more assists in this game on the first line alongside Cervenka, despite having no shots of his own in this contest, but he also spent 1:30 on the PK, which is somewhat unusual for him, but the Flames didn't have a whole ton of powerplay time in this one thanks to the undisciplined antics of a select few players. It's been a prolific return to the lineup for Baertschi, who has extended his point streak to six games despite being shuffled throughout the lineup. The much maligned Chris Butler was also in on both of Cervenka's goals, and as a result was +2 in this one, despite the fact that he spent over two minutes playing shorthanded. As much of a liability as he can be in the defensive zone, he has occasionally showed flashes of offensive creativity this season, and I think that if he remains a Flame and his circumstances can be managed carefully and effectively by Hartley (i.e. bottom-pairing minutes), then he might not stick out like a sore thumb.
It was a somewhat disappointing return to the lineup for Miikka Kiprusoff, who wowed the crowd in two home victories over the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks before the Flames set out for a four-game road trip to close out their season, but his team was out-shot almost 2-1 in this game. Perhaps Leland Irving will get a shot tomorrow against the St. Louis Blues since he hasn't seen any action since he was called up several days ago. But this game was also a prime example of how unfortunate this season has been for Pekka Rinne, as the Flames had only 18 shots on goal and still managed to nearly tie the game with a boatload full of AHLers.
The Flames close out their season with back-to-back games against the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow and Friday.