NASHVILLE — The Calgary Flames needed a total team effort to beat the Nashville Predators and get back into playoff position in the Western Conference.
Lance Bouma had two goals, and Michael Ferland, Kris Russell, and Jiri Hudler also scored for the Flames, who snapped a two-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory on Sunday.
“Tonight, I really believed that we played what I would say is our most complete game in a long time,” Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. “Not that the others were not good, but tonight I am so proud of our four lines, our six Ds, and Jonas Hiller came up with some big saves at the right times. It’s a big team win. It feels great.”
Calgary entered Sunday one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for the Western Conference’s final wild-card playoff spot. With the win, the Flames moved ahead of the Kings, but Los Angeles has played one fewer game.
Roman Josi and Seth Jones had goals for Nashville. Playing their third game in four days, the playoff-bound Predators’ four-game winning streak came to an end.
“We weren’t at our best tonight,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “It seemed like we were slow to get in the battles or at least get a second or third man into the battles. When we got there, I don’t think that we did a very good job of taking the majority of those battles into our possession.”
Calgary took a 2-1 lead at 17:48 of the first on a goal by Russell, when his shot from the right point hit the skate of Nashville forward Paul Gaustad in the low slot and beat Carter Hutton on the short side. Ferland made it 3-1 at 6:57 of the second for his first NHL goal.
“It felt awesome,” Ferland said of the milestone goal, which also proved to be the game-winner. “I was always itching to get that first one and always imagined how it would feel. I feel like I got 200 pounds off my back now. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had, for sure.”
Hudler scored at 11:53 of the period, putting Calgary up by three goals.
Jones made it 4-2 at 9:55 of the third. On a delayed penalty to Calgary, Jones beat Hiller with a wrist shot from above the right circle.
“We need to tighten up defensively,” Jones said. “We gave up way too many chances, point-blank right in front of our net. We kind of left (Hutton) out to dry tonight a little bit.”
Josi assisted on Jones’ goal, giving him 55 points on the season, one shy of Nashville’s record for points in a season by a defenceman.
Bouma added an empty-net goal in the game’s final minute.
Josi scored the game’s first goal at 6:17 of the opening period on a one-timer from the left point that beat fellow Swiss countryman Hiller high to the glove side.
Bouma evened the game at 1 at 9:13 of the first. In the low slot, Bouma attempted a backhand, which was blocked by Nashville defenceman Mattias Ekholm. The rebound came back to Bouma, and he beat Hutton between the pads. Hutton saw his first game action since March 3.
“It was huge,” Bouma said. “Everyone knows the importance of this game, and everyone really played it like a playoff game and really took charge.”