Flames-Predators Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 20, 2013
Less than a week ago, Calgary soundly beat the Nashville Predators to extend its longest home winning stretch of the season. Based on the way the Flames have played on the road, they'd settle for any margin of victory in the teams' next meeting. The Flames look to avoid their first eight-game road skid in 13 years while trying to hand the Predators a season-high fifth consecutive defeat Thursday night. Calgary (11-12-4) owns a 27-13 scoring advantage during a home winning streak that reached six games with a 6-3 win over Nashville on Friday. The Flames, however, followed by opening a three-game trip with a 4-3 loss at Dallas on Monday. Outscored 28-11 during an 0-6-1 road slide, Calgary has not lost eight straight away from home since Jan. 26-Feb. 16, 2000. "We've got to find a way to get some points on the road," said center Matt Stajan, who has nine points in the last six at home but two assists in the last seven road contests. "That's all we can do now." Calgary fell behind 3-0 at Dallas, the fourth straight road game it has allowed the first goal. "You've got to find a way," Flames backup goaltender Joey McDonald said. "It seems like on the road we start slow and it takes time to get going. At home we have the energy, we have the crowd behind us. I don't know what it is.'' MacDonald made 20 saves in place of Miikka Kiprusoff, who is expected back after missing Monday's game for the birth of his child. Kiprusoff wasn't totally sharp while facing 20 shots Friday against the Predators (11-13-6), but the Flames jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Curtis Glencross had a hat trick, but Monday recorded only his third assist and fourth point in 10 road games this season. Nashville has won the last two home meetings with Calgary, but opens a four-game stay at Bridgestone Arena trying to avoid its first five-game slide since Dec. 18-28, 2010. Two points ahead of the Flames in the Western Conference, the Predators have dropped 12 of 16 and find themselves in a fight to make the playoffs for a fourth straight season. "We're putting ourselves in real bad positions and we're not making it easy,'' defenseman Shea Weber said. "It's just tough.'' Gabriel Bourque recorded his team-leading 10th goal and Weber added two assists as Nashville concluded a 1-4-0 trip with a 4-3 loss at Columbus on Tuesday. The Predators opened the trek with a 4-0 win at Dallas on March 12, but were outscored 20-12 in the last four. Though Nashville has been plagued by injuries to key forwards Colin Wilson, Patric Hornqvist, Paul Gaustad and defensemen Hal Gill and Scott Hannan, coach Barry Trotz won't make excuses for those healthy enough to play. "We've got to play good defensively,'' he said. "We've got to sort that out and go from there. Some guys, I'm not happy with their game. They've got to give us more. That's the part that bothers me.'' Pekka Rinne has a 5.22 goals-against average while going 0-2-0 in the last four games. He was pulled in two of those, including Friday when he allowed goals on the first two shots he faced. Rinne, however, is 6-2-4 with a 1.54 GAA at home in 2013. Bourque has six goals in nine games, including one against Calgary.
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