While the out of town scoreboard has been the opposite of helpful for the Calgary Flames' playoff hunt, the Nashville Predators have clinched a playoff spot of their own. Therefore, one team clearly needs this more than the other.
Both teams possess rookies that the rest of the NHL wishes they had, as Filip Forsberg and Johnny Gaudreau fight for the top spot in rookie scoring, and for the Calder Trophy (along with Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers).
The Flames have fared well against the Predators this season, but the only two games were played way back in October. Much has changed since then, so here's hoping the new set of Flames can keep things rolling and sweep the season series.
The game started off much better than the Minnesota Wild game went a couple of days ago. The play was relatively back and forth with some sustained pressure coming from both sides.
Nashville would open the scoring, with a shot by Roman Josi on one of the better rushes for the Preds.
Minutes after crawling off the ice following a hit on Mattias Ekholm, Lance Bouma forced his way through the Preds defence and tied it up with his 15th goal of the season.
Nashville rookie, Forsberg, stripped Calgary rookie, no-not-that-one, Michael Ferland, of the puck, showing off just how good he is.
The Flames' newest hero, Deryk Engelland, was found streaking up the boards with a pass from an original hero, TJ Brodie, but was taken down with a hip-check from Anton Volchenkov. Too bad, would have made a great addition to the Engelland story.
Another defencemen that was having a great period was shot-block king, Kris Russell. Only this time, he was noticeable for offensive plays as opposed to blocks, and he was rewarded with a goal (that was then attributed to Jiri Hudler, but was changed back after more review).
Flames led 2-1 after the first. They were also leading in shots, 10-9, and Corsi, 24-19. Solid start guys!
The Flames started the period with a lead, and remained dominant. It was a refreshing period to watch, even though it started out kind of boring.
Case in point, Ferland scored his first NHL goal to put the Flames up 3-1 about seven minutes in, on an awesome shift by the fourth line. Ferland has grown a lot this season, adding to the Flames great season regarding rookies. A special shout out to Matt Stajan for his play along the boards for that puck.
Nothing like a goal to get a game fired up. Every line for the Flames was contributing to a great period. The puck control and cycling by the team was a much better look than the last few games.
Hudler got his goal (after the confusion that followed the Russell goal in the first) off of a long shot by Engelland, who was just looking to clear the zone. Instead, the puck found Hudler, in alone on Carter Hutton, who appeared to make the stop before the puck dribbled through him and into the net.
After a bit of chaos in the Flames zone, Gaudreau and Hudler made their way up on a 2-on-1. Johnny finally learned to take the shot instead of looking for the pass, but it found the crossbar.
Mason Raymond was too fast for Calle Jarnkrok, who resorted to slashing and cross-checking instead. Sorry, but that's a penalty, brother.
And what a powerplay it was from the beginning. Hudler almost made it 5-1 off of the first faceoff. Raymond had a few good chances himself, forcing Hutton to pay attention and make some saves. No goals to be had, but the Flames did rack up five good shots.
To even things out a bit, Dennis Wideman was called for tripping Colin Wilson. Jonas Hiller made his first great save of the game on the delayed call.
His second was on Cody Franson on the powerplay. The Flames penalty kill did as well as the powerplay, as they were able to get the puck out a few times in the two minutes. Nashville managed four shots, but the chances weren't much compared to what Calgary had in their PP.
An additional two goals made it 4-1 for the Flames. In similar fashion to the first, the Flames out-shot and out-Corsi'd the Preds, 13-11 and 24-17, respectively. Hits, however, were led by Nashville, 19-9.
As expected, score effects sort of took over the last period of the game, with the Flames up 4-1 to start.
With the Preds in the offensive zone for much of the period, a shot off of a Nashville faceoff win rang off the post and landed behind Hiller. The puck danced the line and Russell got there just in time to gather it and throw it aside.
Stajan took a penalty for high-sticking Mike Santorelli, but the powerplay did not come, as Seth Jones was able to bury a shot on the delayed call. The Preds just toyed with the Flames during the delay, playing with the puck in the offensive zone and waiting for the perfect shot, which they got.
With about 2:30 left in the game, down 4-2, Hutton was pulled for the extra attacker.
But Preds be damned if the Flames would be out-Flamed in the third period. Bouma didn't let them have it, as he got his second of the game on the empty net, effectively ending the game with about 30 seconds left.
The Flames won the game decisively, 5-2. As was anticipated, a score effects driven third had the Predators out-shooting the Flames 9-7, and out-Corsi'ing, 24-13. The third led to a much more even-looking game, with the Flames out-shooting and out-Corsi'ing, 30-29, and 61-60 for the game.
- Sportsnet couldn't figure it out today, as they had Devin Setoguchi as #22 for the Flames. On the other hand, it was fun to say that Setoguchi had the assist on Ferland's goal.
- With seven blocked shots on the game, Kris Russell is now only three away from tieing the NHL record of 273 in one season.
- Mike Fisher's baby is adorable. With him and Carrie Underwood as parents, that baby is going to be attractive.
- As with previous games, the Flames' special teams were awesome tonight.
- The least remarkable line tonight was the Mason Raymond - Josh Jooris - Joe Colborne line. That's not saying much though, as every Flames skater had at least one individual Corsi for event each.
- This is what happens when you've got four capable lines Bob!
- With two goals, Lance Bouma has got himself a pretty 16 goals on the season. Fun fact - every goal has been at even strength.
Perspective. Lance Bouma now has more even strength goals this season than Sidney Crosby. 16 . What a story.— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) March 29, 2015
Flame of the Game:
This was definitely one of Michael Ferland's best NHL games. He got about 11:42 of ice time, had three shots, four iCFs, and potted his first NHL goal. As mentioned earlier, he's really showing how much he's grown with the Flames this season. He even had a great zone entry as he flew in straight off the bench.
The Flames have seen some great development in their rookies this year.
Ferland's goal was the 40th for a Flames rookie, surpassing the 39 from last year. It's the most since Calgary rookies scored 42 in 1990-91.— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) March 29, 2015
That was before I was born!
At the time of posting, the Pittsburgh Penguins were leading the San Jose Sharks 2-0, though the Sharks are pretty much out of the race now, and the Winnipeg Jets were just beginning their game against the Chicago Blackhawks.