Originally posted on Inside Smashville  |  Last updated 1/1/12

In the NHL’s only game on New Year’s Day, the Nashville Predators beat the Calgary Flames 5-3, taking the season series 3-1.

It was a game of milestones and milestone misses.

For the Flames, Olli Jokinen played his 1000th NHL game.

Jarome Iginla was just two goals shy of his 500th career NHL goal entering Sunday night’s contest. With two shots on goal, the Flames captain was able to pull within one of 500, putting the Flames up 1-0 early in the first period.

Nashville went on to score four unanswered goals, taking a 4-1 lead into the third period on goals by Kevin Klein, Matt Halischuk and two from Sergei Kostitsyn, who would score a third goal into the empty net to seal the victory for Nashville.

On the Predators side of things, Kostitsyn’shat trick was the first of his NHL career. Kostitsyn was credited with three shots on goal for the game. His final goal was an empty net tally with Calgary pressing to tie the game after scoring twice in the third period to pull within one goal of Nashville.

Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz says Kostitsyn is finally learning to shoot the puck more. “He got three shots – that’s like ten games for him sometimes it seems. He’s shooting the puck and we talked about him just using that to create offense not just to score the goal. If he keeps throwing the puck at the net if it doesn’t go in for him it will go in for someone else and I think he’s starting to get the message.”

Ryan Suter said he never saw Kostitsyn move as fast as he did chasing the puck down the length of the rink. “They have so much firepower – you just have to try to keep everyone in front of you.  We were able to, and Sergei raced down for the goal. I’ve never seen him skate that fast,” Suter said.

Jordin Tootoo’s two assists gave him 18 points on the season, tying his career high. With 6 goals and 12 assists, Tootoo ties his points totals from last year in 54 games as well as the 18 points he picked up in the 2007-08 campaign in 63 contests. This year, Tootoo has played in 37 games for Nashville.

Matt Halischuk also tied his career points total when he scored in the second period to give the Predators a 3-1 lead. In 27 games a season ago, Halischuk picked up 12 points with 4 goals and 8 assists. This season, in 39 games, Halischuk has reached the 12 points, but has done so by finding the back of the net with 9 goals and 3 assists.

Halischuk is tied for second on the team in goals scored with Patric Hornqvist. David Legwand leads the squad with 10 goals scored on the season.

With Kostitsyn’s hat trick came a near milestone miss for another Predator. Defenseman Kevin Klein’s clearing shot was on its way to reaching the empty net when Kostitsyn skated hard to reach the puck and tap it in before it crossed the goal line on its own. Had Klein been able to score the goal, it would have been his first career two-goal game.

Klein got the Predators on the scoreboard at 12:39 into the first period. It was his first game back after missing six games with the flu.

The defenseman didn’t seem too upset that he missed out on his chance for a two-goal game. “He owes me dinner – I’ve already told him.  I’m glad for his first career hat trick, those don’t come too often.  I don’t really get paid to score, so it’s not a big deal,” Klein said.

Nashville has won three games in a row and does not play again until Thursday night when Dallas visits the Bridgestone Arena. It was during a game against the Stars in Dallas on December 23rd that Shea Weber suffered his concussion.

 

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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