Predators-Flames Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 15, 2013
Though the Calgary Flames have had their share of problems recently, they've been playing extremely well at home. That may not bode well for a Nashville Predators team struggling on the road lately. Calgary seeks a sixth straight home victory Friday night while trying to deal Nashville an eighth defeat in its last nine road contests. The Flames were outscored 13-3 during a three-games-in-four-nights stretch, falling to Anaheim last Friday and Los Angeles on Saturday and Monday. They bounced back Wednesday, though, beating Detroit 5-2 at home. Calgary (10-11-4) is tied with Colorado for the fewest points in the Western Conference, but coach Bob Hartley isn't ready to give up hope quite yet - especially given how well his team has played at home recently. "When you don't believe, there's no hope. That's the picture we're facing," Hartley said. "The day I don't believe in our players, I will retire. (We need) the goaltending that we got (Wednesday) and some timely goals." Miikka Kiprusoff made 36 saves after allowing 10 goals over his previous two starts. He's 6-4-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average in his last 10 starts versus the Predators, and could be in net again Friday. "I played way better than I played the last two games, and it was nice,'' the goaltender said. Kiprusoff is 2-0-1 with a 1.62 GAA in his last three home starts and may be able to bank on receiving solid offensive support in this contest. Calgary has scored at least four goals in its last four at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Hartley said the Flames, who have won three of their last four home meetings with the Predators, are still capable of ending a three-year playoff drought. "I think we've proved we're capable of playing pretty solid hockey," Hartley said. "The inconsistency that has been around this organization for the past few years we have to eliminate." The Predators have been pretty inconsistent themselves. They fell 7-4 at Vancouver on Thursday and are 3-6-1 over their last 10 despite beating Dallas 4-0 on Tuesday to open their five-game road trip. Nashville (11-10-6), though, has been outscored by 14 goals while going 1-6-1 over its last eight road games. Coach Barry Trotz felt his team had a solid effort Thursday, though. "I didn't think the score was an indication of how the game was. Unfortunately everything that I think happened early was self-inflicted," Trotz said. "We battled back, we had some chances, but we couldn't bury enough." Trotz said Pekka Rinne will be back in net Friday after allowing four goals on 12 shots and being pulled in favor of Chris Mason in the second period. Rinne entered having shut out two of his previous three opponents. "There were some strange things that we did and (the puck) ended up behind (him)," Trotz said. "I pulled him out after the fourth because he will go back and play against Calgary." Rinne is 3-1-0 with a 1.25 GAA in his last four starts versus the Flames, including wins in the past two. Sergei Kostitsyn had his first career hat trick as the Predators beat Calgary 5-3 in the most recent matchup Jan. 1, 2012.
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