Flames too intense for listless Predators
Let the record book show the Calgary Flames have never had a better stretch on the road.
Miikka Kiprusoff posted his second straight shutout, stopping all 22 shots he faced as the Flames blanked the Nashville Predators 5-0 on Monday night.
It marked Kiprusoff's third shutout this season and 33rd in the NHL, and extended Calgary's winning ways to three road games in a row and four games overall.
"With Miikka behind us, we're pretty confident standing up, forcing teams to dump pucks, staying up on the rush and not allowing the other team too much time to make plays," Flames defenceman Adam Pardy said.
To paraphrase, Calgary played a classic road game — again.
The Flames have registered at least one point in each of their last 10 road games — a franchise record — and haven't lost in regulation on the road since a 2-1 setback at Columbus on Oct. 13.
Calgary is 10-1-3 on the road compared to 7-5-0 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
"I don't know if there is anything we do differently on the road," Pardy said. "We pride ourselves on being a good road team."
If not a tidy one.
The Flames smothered the Predators from the drop of the puck, forechecking with ruthless efficiency and committing to keeping the crease clear for Kiprusoff.
"We did a real good job of playing smart hockey," Flames head coach Brent Sutter said. "Our puck management was very good."
The same could not be said for the listless Predators.
Nigel Dawes extended his career-high scoring streak to four games with a power-play goal 4:39 into the second period. He has eight goals and 15 points in 26 games so far, and should easily surpass last year's output of 10 goals and 21 points in 64 games with the New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes. Dawes had career-high totals of 14 goals and 29 points in 2007-08.
"He is just playing a really intelligent game. He's found some consistency and has certainly taken his game to a level that we would like to see him play at every night." — Brent Sutter
"We were definitely flat tonight," Predators defenceman Dan Hamhuis said. "They had a lot more energy than we did."
"Calgary didn't allow us to get our energy going, plain and simple," lamented Predators head coach Barry Trotz. "We shouldn't be a tired team.
"We have got to come out of the gates quicker. If the players say they're tired, I would say that's an excuse."
Curtis Glencross enjoyed his first multi-point effort of the season, pacing Calgary's offence with one goal and two assists.
Jarome Iginla had a goal and an assist, David Moss, Nigel Dawes and Pardy rounded out the scoring and Dion Phaneuf chipped in with two assists.
"We stuck with our game plan the whole way through," Moss said. "When you do those little things right over and over again, it wears the other team down."
'Just a foot race'
Moss broke a scoreless deadlock 92 seconds into the second period as he blocked Hamhuis's point shot at Nashville's blue-line, sped up ice on a breakaway and deked netminder Pekka Rinne for his fifth goal of the season.
"It was one of those fortunate plays where you're blocked and it happens to bounce in front of you and by the guy," Moss said. "It was just a foot race after that."
Dawes scored his eighth at the 4:39 mark, ramming in an Iginla rebound from the lip of the crease before being dumped by Predators defenceman Shea Weber.
"Nigel is getting in those areas to score goals," Sutter observed.
Eight minutes into the third period, Olli Jokinen applied the brakes in the offensive zone and circled back to send the puck into the high slot to Pardy, who beat Rinne with a rising wrist shot for his second.
Rinne redeemed himself moments later, sprawling to his left to snare Dustin Boyd's backhand.
But when the Predators pulled Rinne for an extra attacker with 3:59 left, Glencross fired the puck the length of the ice for a short-handed tally, his sixth.
"You figure if we put out six players to their four, then maybe we have got a chance to get a quick power-play goal," Trotz said in explaining the last-ditch strategy, which backfired.
"It wasn't like we were loading up on offensive chances. We needed numbers, so we pulled our goalie."
With Rinne back between the pipes, Iginla completed the carnage with a power-play goal, tucking in a rebound for his team-high 17th with 67 seconds left.
With files from The Canadian Press