CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist to lead to lead the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
After assisting on the tying goal in the first, Granlund made it three straight goals for the visitors at 9:06 of the second, poking in a rebound after Cam Talbot had stopped the initial blast from the blue line by Roman Josi.
The goal came on the Predators’ only power play of the game.
“Huge win for us,” said Josi, who had two assists to surpass the 400-point plateau for his career. “We’re a confident group. We need to make a push. We’re not happy with where we are, but we’re feeling confident and we’re excited to make that push.”
Six of Granlund’s 12 goals on the season have come in the 12 games since John Hynes took over behind the bench on Jan. 7 for the fired Peter Laviolette.
“When pucks are going in, that’s when the confidence comes,” Granlund said. “But at the same time, I’ve been out there a lot, getting a lot of minutes and chances. You just try to take advantage of that.”
Hynes says his Finnish forward has earned the increased ice time.
“He’s a good, smart, competitive player that has offensive skill. He’s bringing that to the table, but the big thing is he’s been consistent,” says Hynes, whose record is 7-5-0. “He plays the game in the right areas. He’s very strong at the net front offensively. He’s strong on his puck battles. He’s a very smart player. I can use him everywhere.”
Dante Fabbro and Kyle Turris also scored for Nashville, which has won four of its last five to climb within one point of the Flames for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Sam Bennett and Rasmus Andersson had the goals for Calgary, which lost all three games on its homestand.
Calgary was without Mark Giordano (hamstring), his first game missed due to injury since February 2015. The Flames captain is week-to-week. In the absence of the club’s ice-time leader, Travis Hamonic jumped up to the top pairing to join TJ Brodie. That pair was on the ice for all three Predators goals.
Juuse Saros made his second straight start in goal for Nashville and was sharp again. After a 33-save performance Tuesday in Winnipeg, he made 37 stops. His best stop was a pad save off Matthew Tkachuk as Calgary failed to convert a late second-period 2-on-1 that would have tied it.
“It’s getting frustrating,” Tkachuk said. “It’s crunch time right now. We’ve just got to play our game and get to it early. There’s no excuse why after we make it 1-0, it’s 2-1 after the end of the first period. We’ve got to do a better job of playing with the lead.”
Cam Talbot, in his first appearance since he was thrown out of Saturday’s game against Edmonton after his fight with Mike Smith, made 32 saves.
Calgary got off to a fast start with Bennett snapping a 12-game goalless drought just 33 seconds into the game. Skating hard to the top of the crease, he arrived just in time to redirect a centering pass from Travis Hamonic.
The lead was short-lived with Fabbro tying it at 1:49, strolling into the slot uncontested and ripping a shot over the glove of Talbot.
The Predators took the lead 10 minutes later when Turris banged in a loose puck during a scramble in front.
Flames interim head coach Geoff Ward, visibly frustrated, spoke about his club’s lack of urgency. Entering the third period and down by a goal, Calgary went over 12 minutes without a shot.
“It’s about how hard you want to compete,” Ward said. “At the end of the day when there’s a loose puck, are we getting it or are they getting it? And right now, we’re not getting it enough.”
NOTES: Lindholm had an assist to extend his point streak to five games. … Brandon Davidson, called up earlier in the day from Stockton (AHL), stepped into the Flames’ lineup with Oliver Kylington (illness) also not available.
Predators: Off to a 2-0-0 start on its four-game trip, Nashville’s next stop is Saturday night at Edmonton.
Flames: Begin a four-game trip Saturday night at Vancouver.
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