Calgary Flames: Mike Smith finally shows up in shutout over Predators

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 9: Mike Smith #41 of the Calgary Flames makes a glove save against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on October 9, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 9: Mike Smith #41 of the Calgary Flames makes a glove save against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on October 9, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Calgary Flames let the Nashville Predators face the music as they beat them 3-0 in their home-opener. Let’s check it out.

The Calgary Flames: Actually good?

Tonight, the Flames were in music city to play the Nashville Predators in their home-opener. Well, it was Nashville who faced the music this time because the Flames shut them out 3-0 as Mike Smith recorded a 43-save performance.

In the first two games of the season, goaltending was the biggest concern. Smith let in eight goals on 42 shots in the first two games against the Vancouver Canucks, but he was anything but worrisome tonight.

Let’s check out how the Flames got here.

First period

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The Calgary Flames went on an early powerplay as PK Subban got called for tripping Austin Czarnik. Big surprise, this powerplay was somewhat useless. They had no shots, no scoring chances, and just one shot attempt. It seems like it takes them a few powerplays in a game to actually get set up. Not ideal, but at the rate they’ve been getting powerplays, it may be alright.

A few minutes later, the MMA line (Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk, and Austin Czarnik) put great pressure in the offensive zone that lasted a little a little over 30 seconds, but no goals came from that.

For the next five minutes, the Flames were all over the Preds. Which would definitely cue a Preds goal, but thankfully, that didn’t happen.

At around the 15-minute mark of the period, Johnny Gaudreau had a nice pass to Sean Monahan who tried to sneak the puck in five-hole, but Pekka Rinne stopped it. On that play, Monahan drew a penalty with a hooking call from Mattias Ekholm, so off to the PP they go.

It started off a little rocky, but Johnny Gaudreau went down past the Preds defencemen with Elias Lindholm on the other side. With an incredible pass to Lindholm and a laser-like shot from Lindholm, it’s 1-0 Flames and another PP goal. That’s now Lindholm’s third goal of the season in just three games and Gaudreau’s fifth point.

This period ended 1-0 for the Flames while outshooting the Preds 8-7 and had six scoring chances at even-strength compared to Nashville’s’ four. Let’s head to the second period.

Second period

The Predators came with a bit of a jump to start this period. With an attempt to clear, Gaudreau got hit at the boards which gave the Preds another scoring chance. Luckily, Mike Smith seems to be a little more comfortable than the first two games and this game remained 1-0.

Shortly after, Monahan got a partial breakaway where he shot the puck on Rinne, who stopped it, and Sam Bennett got the rebound. However, a faint whistle went when Monahan was on the breakaway and the goal was waived off. The Preds had too many men on the ice, yet even though the Calgary Flames had possession, the ref mistakingly blew the whistle, leaving the Flames somewhat frustrated.

It’s alright though because the Flames were going on the powerplay and those seem to be doing alright lately. And that was true. That first unit did it again with a wrist shot by Monahan, and the Flames are up 2-0. That’s now 2/3 on the PP so far tonight.

Slightly before the midway mark, the Preds got a full two-minute 5on3 powerplay, and boy did the Flames have to be sharp. Especially Mike Smith who was their best penalty-killer. After a rough two games to start the season, he really showed up tonight. Rookie Juuso Valimaki also saw time on that penalty-kill. They managed to kill it off and keep this a two-goal game.

This period ended 2-0 for the Flames, however, the Preds definitely had lots of jump to them and were fighting back. They outshot the Flames 21-9 and dominated at 5on5. Let’s head to the final frame.

Third period

Early in the period, Monahan, Gaudreau, and Lindholm basically got a three-on-one chance with Monahan leading the way with the puck. In an attempt to pass it to a linemate, the puck hits Ekholm’s skate and in the net. 3-0 game for the Calgary Flames with a lucky break and unlucky night for Ekholm. That’s Monahan’s second of the night and fourth of the season.

A few minutes later, the Flames got another powerplay, and although they pushed with three scoring chances, two of which were high-danger chances, this game remained 3-0.

For the first half of the period, it seemed like the Flames were down 3-0 by how much they were pushing on the Preds. At one point, Matthew Tkachuk made a gorgeous between-the-legs pass back to Austin Czarnik who tried a backhand shot, but couldn’t get it past Rinne.

Imagine if that had been a goal. I’m just picturing the highlight reels.

The Preds had some push-back in the second half of the period, but Mike Smith drank some Nashville water and was unbeatable. The Preds outshot the Flames 43-27, but the scoresheet is all that matters at the end of the day.

Johnny Gaudreau leads the Flames with seven points (T-5th in the league) and Monahan leads with four goals (T-4th in the league).

Next. It's time to face the facts with fighting. dark

This was a fun game to watch and the Flames actually looked like a good team. Huh. Who would have thought?