Flames playoff primer? Predators prevail in shootout
If the NHL playoffs started tomorrow, the Calgary Flames would face off against the Nashville Predators.
Judging from Tuesday’s game in Music City U.S.A., such a series could prove to be a real humdinger.
In a tight-checking game from start to finish, the host Predators came out on top 3-2 in a shootout.
Scoreless through the first period, the Predators got on the board first at 7:29 of the second — while Flames defenceman Nikita Zadorov served a hooking penalty — when forward Filip Forsberg fired the puck from the left faceoff circle past goalie Dan Vladar.
Forsberg’s linemate Matt Duchene made it 2-0 Predators less than five minutes later at 12:09 with his 40th goal of the season. With it, he became the first player in franchise history to hit the 40-goal mark.
Andrew Mangiapane scored both goals for the Flames, the first coming off a rebound late in the second period on a power play and the tying goal six minutes into the third during a goalmouth scramble.
Mangiapane, who has scored four goals in the last five games following a 12-game scoring drought, now has 34 goals on the season.
Overtime decided nothing, of course. Mikael Granlund scored the only tally in the shootout to secure Nashville the win and a two-point cushion over the idle Dallas Stars in the Western Conference wild-card race.
- Predators goalie Juuse Saros, who made 19 saves in the win, stopped Flames shooters Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Tyler Toffoli in the skills competition. Vladar ended the game with 25 saves for the Flames.
- An assist on Mangiapane’s first goal gives Tkachuk 99 points on the season (39 G 60A). Gaudreau also assisted on the goal to give him 70 helpers and 108 points thus far.
- With the point, the Flames are now 10 points ahead of the Oilers in the Pacific Division standings.
The Flames, who are a win (or an Oilers loss) away from clinching first in the Pacific, will face another potential first-round playoff partner Thursday night against the visiting Dallas Stars.
It will be the Stars’ second game in two nights following a date with the Oilers on Wednesday in Edmonton.
The Stars, as already mentioned, are in a dogfight with the Predators to try to finish the season with the first wild-card spot to avoid playing the Colorado Avalanche, co-holders (with the Florida Panthers) of the best record in the NHL, although a series date with the Flames would be no picnic, either.
Dallas lost to the surging Vancouver Canucks 6-2 on Monday. The Stars do have a game in hand on the Predators, however.
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