Calgary Flames 18-16-5
Nashville Predators 20-14-4
Pekka Rinne has only allowed 2 goals in three games against Calgary this season
The Nashville Predators host the Calgary Flames for a special 5 p.m. start time at Bridgestone Arena New Year’s Day. It is the fourth and final time the Predators will face the Flames during the regular season. The Predators lead the season series 2-1.
Nashville has won two straight games, both in a shootout, over the Minnesota Wild and Central Division rival St. Louis.
Playing without Captain Shea Weber or Kevin Klein on defense, the Predators rookies on the back end continue to hold their own. Against the Blues, Roman Josi played 23:22, recorded two shots on goal, picked up as assist on Matt Halischuk’s first period goal and played both shorthanded and on the power play. Jon Blum played 18:19 and logged 1:40 shorthanded ice time. Ryan Ellis quarterbacked the power play with Alternate captain Ryan Suter and played over 17 minutes, 3:45 with the man advantage. All three rookies ended the night even on the plus/minus scale.
The Predators will be facing an angry Flames squad. Calgary had a 3-goal lead after the first period but lost to Ottawa 4-3 in overtime when Daniel Alfredsson scored on the power play at 3:31 of the extra period. After winning four straight games, the loss to Ottawa was the second in a row for the Flames who also lost to the Islanders on Thursday.
Calgary is 4-3-3 in its last 10 contests, but is still just one point back from 8th place Los Angeles in the Western Conference standings. The Flames are only 3 points back from the Predators and with a win in regulation would pull to within 1 point of the Predators.
The Flames have several players sidelined with injuries, the latest being left wing Alex Tanguay. The Calgary Herald reports that the team lists Tanguay as having an upper-body injury but there is speculation that it may be a concussion. Matt Stajan is out with a sprained ankle, Henrik Karlsson is out with a sprained right MCL, and Mark Giordano is out with ruptured tendons in his leg.
Goaltending will be key Sunday night. Predators netminder Pekka Rinne has played lights-out hockey for his last two starts, but has historically struggled against the Flames with a 2-5-2 record. Both of Rinne’s wins against the Flames have come this year, one in Calgary and one in Nashville.
The Predators shutout the Flames 2-0 in Calgary on October 22. In Nashville on December 13th, the Predators edged the Flames 2-1 on the strength of goals from Matt Halischuk and Colin Wilson.
Nashville’s only loss to Calgary this season was a 1-0 shutout loss at the Saddledome on November 29th.
In three games this season, Rinne has allowed only 2 goals against the Flames. For his career, Rinne has a 2.36 goals against average against Calgary with a .925 save percentage.
Calgary’s ace, Miikka Kirprusoff, has a 15-11-(1)-1 all-time record against Nashville with a 2.31 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
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