CALGARY – A perfect four-game road trip has Nashville back in a playoff spot as they enter the all-star break.
Shea Weber’s second-period power-play goal stood up as the winner Wednesday night as the Predators completed their sweep of Western Canada with a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
Victories in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver as well moved the Predators from sixth to fourth in the Central Division and into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
“It’s not easy to come out here and beat these teams in their own buildings,” said Weber. “We’re battling our way back into the playoff picture here. The last four games have really helped.”
Mike Ribeiro also scored for Nashville (24-18-8), which does not return to action until Tuesday when they host St. Louis.
Mark Giordano scored the lone goal for Calgary (21-24-2). The Flames, who have lost three in a row and are eight points out of a playoff spot, are not back in action until Wednesday.
“I told the boys, ‘Let’s take advantage of this break. Let’s reload. Let’s refuel, and get back on track.’ We’re in a situation that we have to shock the hockey world,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley.
Calgary mounted a furious rally late in the third period piling up nine of its 27 shots in the final two-and-a-half minutes, but they could not get the tying goal past Carter Hutton.
“Credit to their goalie, he made some huge saves,” said Giordano. “But we’ve got to get out of this rut. We’ve got to come out of the gates and get the lead, that’s what our mindset has to be.”
Hutton improved to 5-2-1.
“It wasn’t the prettiest finish but it was back to back, and the end of a road trip. It was a huge two points any way we look at it,” said the Predators goalie.
Ramo had 22 stops to fall to 16-17-1.
Calgary closed the gap to 2-1 5:48 into the third when Giordano ripped a slap shot into the top corner from 40 feet out.
It ended Hutton’s shutout streak at 106:02. He had 29 saves in a 4-0 win over Minnesota in his last start on Jan. 16.
Nashville extended its lead to 2-0 on Weber’s one-timer at 17:37 of the second.
The power-play goal against the Flames 29th-ranked penalty kill came after Calgary’s 30th ranked power play had squandered three straight man advantages in the first period.
“We had a ton of chances in the last two minutes but if we score one on the power play earlier in the game, we don’t have to worry about tying the game up with a minute left,” said Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau.
One of the hardest hits of the game came on a weird play in the second period when Dennis Wideman, making his way to the Flames bench on a line change, ended up bowling over linesman Don Henderson, who was skating backwards towards him.
“I took a pretty hard hit down in the corner and had some pretty good pain in my shoulder and my neck and I was just trying to get off the ice and I was kind of keeled over and at the last second, I looked up and I saw him and I couldn’t avoid it,” said Wideman.
At the next stoppage, Wideman skated over to where the officials were gathered and apologized.
“Throughout my career and I’ve been around for a few years, I think I’ve treated every official with the utmost respect and I would never intentionally try to hit a linesman or a ref or anything like that,” Wideman added.
Notes: Mattias Ekholm had an assist to extend his point streak to a career-high five games (2-4-6). Eric Nystrom (foot) did not play for Nashville. Out of the line-up for the Flames were Joe Colborne and Josh Jooris, who both suffered minor undisclosed injuries Monday in Dallas… Weber’s nine power-play goals ranks him second among defensemen.