Goals have been hard to come by for the Nashville Predators lately, but on Tuesday night they used a rare burst of scoring in the third period to build a 4-1 lead over the Calgary Flames and then held on for a much-needed win. The four goals matched their scoring total from the previous three games combined, and they avoided losing a fourth consecutive game while getting just their second win in their past eight outings. Nashville also got a solid performance from rookie goaltender Carter Hutton, who made 22 saves to record his eighth win of the season.
The Predators started Tuesday night 26th in the league in goals per game (2.3), and through two periods it didn’t look like things were going to change. Captain Shea Weber gave his team a short-lived lead in the first period, but it would be more than 25 minutes before another Predators player found the back of the net. The third period proved to be one of the more encouraging periods of the season for Nashville, as Ryan Ellis, Craig Smith and Viktor Stalberg all scored in a span of ten minutes. The Flames got a late goal but it was too little, too late to mount a comeback. Predators forward David Legwand had a three-point night, as he assisted on each goal except Smith’s. While Weber and Smith have been among the better producers this season, seeing Stalberg break through for the first time in seven games is certainly encouraging. Ellis hadn’t scored since October, but he now has a career-high 14 points through 46 games.
Things haven’t come easy for the Predators this season with Pekka Rinne out, but any time they can put four goals on the board they give themselves a chance to win. It could be quite some time before Rinne returns, and Hutton or Marek Mazanec can keep them in contention if they get more of what they got against the Flames.