Flames-Predators Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 22, 2013
While they've long been out of the playoff hunt, the Calgary Flames seem to be building some momentum for next season. The Nashville Predators are simply hoping to end the longest losing streak in team history. The Flames will try to continue their late-season surge and win for the seventh time in nine games when they visit the Predators on Tuesday night. Although Calgary (19-22-4) will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season, it's been competitive lately while rebuilding around a number of young players. Defenseman Mark Cundari, who turns 23 on Tuesday, scored in his NHL debut and veteran Joey MacDonald made 34 saves in his first appearance since signing a one-year deal for next season as the Flames topped Minnesota 4-1 on Sunday. "It's not about spoiling. It's just about playing hard and winning,'' said MacDonald, who has won four of his last five starts while allowing five goals in the victories. "We've got a lot of young guys here trying to prove a point for next year.'' The Flames look to keep rolling as they take on a Nashville team that will miss the postseason for the first time since 2008-09. The Predators (15-21-9) have lost a team-worst eight in a row and 11 of 12 after a 5-4 overtime defeat to Chicago on Friday. Nashville recorded 104 points last season. "Everybody's pushing to try to get a win,'' coach Barry Trotz said. "It's one thing or another.'' With Trotz also giving some of his young prospects a look in the final week, Kevin Henderson took advantage of the opportunity with a goal in his first NHL game Friday. Matt Halischuk added a pair of goals for the Predators, while Bobby Butler scored for the third time in four games. Injuries have played a part in Nashville's struggles, with the absences of centers Mike Fisher and Paul Gaustad as well as wingers Gabriel Bourque and Patric Hornqvist taking a toll offensively. Nashville's 104 goals are tied for the fewest in the Western Conference, and it's totaled 12 goals during the eight-game slide. Gaustad and Bourque are out for the season, while Fisher and Hornqvist are uncertain for this contest. Pekka Rinne hasn't been able to bail the Predators out, posting a 3.03 goals-against average while going 0-6-1 during the losing streak. Rinne has given up 10 goals over his last two starts, but he's 4-1-0 with a 1.96 GAA in his last six starts in this series. The Predators won't have to worry about Calgary leading goal scorer Curtis Glencross, as the forward is expected to miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury. Glencross recorded three goals in first two meetings. The Flames, however, have improved offensively of late, scoring 20 times in their last six games after managing 10 in the previous six. Miikka Kiprusoff, who gave up eight goals in the first two meetings with Nashville, could return to the net after allowing three goals while winning his last two starts. The Flames have dropped three straight on the road in the series, the most recent by a 5-3 score March 21.
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