Flames outlast Predators in shootout for 5th straight win
Jarome Iginla has never seen such a tight playoff race and likes how his Calgary Flames are clawing their way into the mix in the Western Conference.
Rene Bourque scored the only goal in a shootout as Calgary rallied to beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 on Tuesday night for its fifth straight victory.
"If you win, you might move up a slot," Iginla said. "But there are so many teams that if you lose you're moving down two for sure because someone from that group is winning.
"Every game gets more important from here on out. It's going to be a heck of a race with so many teams that are within a few points of each other."
The Flames trailed 1-0 heading into the third period, and Matt Stajan and Cory Sarich scored to help Calgary force overtime.
In the shootout, Bourque slipped the puck under Pekka Rinne's leg to start. Alex Tanguay lost the puck, then Rinne stopped Olli Jokinen. But Miikka Kiprusoff stopped Martin Erat and Cody Franson.
David Legwand had a last chance to extend the shootout but couldn't beat Kiprusoff.
"We've got to hunker down when it's 1-0 and go from there and not let anything else happen after that," Legwand said.
Patric Hornqvist had a power-play goal for Nashville. Martin Erat also scored and Sergei Kostitsyn added two assists.
Calgary now has gone past regulation six times in the past 11 games and improved to 7-4 in shootouts this season. More importantly, the Flames continued their Western rally, having grabbed at least a point in 10 of the past 11 games.
"They've been consistent efforts," Sarich said of this streak. "That's the biggest thing.
"Giving ourselves a chance and not beating ourselves. We're staying in games. We've limited our mistakes from the start of the year, and that's been huge for our success."
Flames coach Brent Sutter called his team resilient again.
"We just stayed the course, kept plugging away, kept working hard. We never did anything fancy, but we did a lot of things the right way," Sutter said.
Rinne, the NHL's third star for January, got Nashville to the shootout by stopping four shots in overtime, his best a stick save on Jokinen with 2:20 left. Then he smothered a slapshot by Stajan just 15 seconds later.
Nashville entered with a 6-2 record in shootout games, but the oh-so-streaky Predators now have lost three straight overall, picking up where they left off going into the all-star weekend.
"At least we got one point tonight, but there comes a point where we've got to figure out how to lock things down," Nashville captain Shea Weber said. "There are 31 games left, and if we're not going to find a way to get two points, we're going to be out of the playoffs."
They seemed in control most of the game. Erat scored his seventh from the slot, tipping in a nice pass from Kostitsyn from the left circle at 7:43 of the first.
Kiprusoff put Nashville on the power play at the end of the second, swiping his glove across Predators centre Nick Spaling's face. But Nashville couldn't convert.
Stajan tied it 1-1 at 2:57 in the third with his fourth goal of the season.
Nashville regained the lead with a rare goal for one of the NHL's worst teams on the man advantage. The Predators came in ranked 28th. Hornqvist scored his 16th this season, beating Kiprusoff at 4:56 — just 28 seconds after Jokinen went to the penalty box for tripping.
It didn't last long as Sarich scored from the right circle at 9:04 to tie it up against Rinne, who has yet to beat Calgary. He now is 0-3-2 against the Flames.
"It felt good to win and come back from the break and get two points right away," Kiprusoff said.