Rinne leads Predators past Flames 3-1

Rinne leads Predators past Flames 3-1

NASHVILLE — Called upon to play a bigger role, Colton Sissons did not disappoint.

Sissons scored a goal, and Pekka Rinne made 24 saves to lead the Nashville Predators over the Calgary Flames 3-1 on Thursday night.

Calle Jarnkrok and Ryan Ellis scored, and Colin Wilson had two assists for Nashville, which has won five of six.

Sissons, playing in his 100th NHL game, doubled Nashville’s lead to 2-0 at 7:58 of the second. Wilson carried the puck in along the left boards and moved toward the slot, where he slipped a backhand pass to Sissons on the right side. There, Sissons kicked the puck to his forehand before beating Chad Johnson, who was outside the crease to challenge a potential shot by Wilson.

“I just knew he made a great cut to the middle and found some open ice,” Sissons said. “We kind of caught each other’s eyes. I was kind of hoping that he’d throw it over and he did. He found me on the back door and we found a way to put it home.”

Predators captain Mike Fisher missed the game with a lower-body injury, so Sissons moved up to centre Nashville’s second line between Wilson and Smith. Sissons was a healthy scratch for seven games between Feb. 23 and March 7, but has been back in the lineup for the last seven.

“Since he’s come back in, there’s been more of a point to really show his identity,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s been fast, he’s been physical. Tonight, it was good to see him chip in offence.”

Dougie Hamilton had the lone goal for Calgary. After winning 17 of 21, the Flames have lost two straight.

“It wasn’t like today’s game we were dominated and we weren’t ready to play,” Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We were ready to play. They are a good hockey club. The power play, we’ve just got to keep doing our thing and moving forward.”

The Flames had five power plays in the first two periods but could not convert with the man advantage, registering just four shots on goal over the 10 minutes.

“That was the difference,” Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. “We got a lot of opportunities early. Early in the game, we hit the post on the PP, I think Dougie hit the post, and for whatever reason, we couldn’t generate after that.”

Calgary hit the post three times in the first period, twice on their opening power play.

“Usually when that happens, you think, ‘That’s it, now I’ve got to make the saves,'” Rinne said. “When you don’t see the puck and then you hear a ding and it hits the post, it’s a good feeling.”

Rinne has won three consecutive starts, allowing just one goal against in each of the last two.

Jarnkrok scored the game’s first goal at 5:02 of the second period. Just 5 seconds after a roughing penalty to Calgary’s Freddie Hamilton expired, Craig Smith had the puck behind the Flames’ net and found Jarnkrok all alone in the slot, where he beat Johnson high to the glove side.

Johnson finished with 14 saves.

Nashville scored twice in the second despite recording just three shots on goal in the period. The 17 shots on goal for the game were a season low for Nashville.

Dougie Hamilton cut Nashville’s lead in half at 10:29 of the second. Johnny Gaudreau prevented a clearing attempt from Filip Forsberg from crossing the blue line and he found Micheal Ferland on the goal line to the left of the Nashville net. Ferland then found an unchecked Hamilton in the slot, and Hamilton he beat Rinne with a one-timer.

Ellis made it 3-1 at the 12-minute mark of the third with a wrist shot from the high slot through traffic that beat Johnson high to the glove side.

NOTES: Nashville D Mattias Ekholm played his 300th career NHL game. …. The Predators have outscored opponents 92-60 in the second period this season… Calgary LW Matthew Tkachuk served the second of his two-game suspension for elbowing Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty in the face Sunday. … Ferland returned after missing two games with an illness.


Flames: At St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Predators: Host San Jose Sharks Saturday.

Jim Diamond, The Associated Press

Canadian Press