Shea Weber scored twice, including the go-ahead goal late in the third period, Friday night as the Nashville Predators, despite blowing three leads, escaped with a 6-5 victory over the Calgary Flames.
Tied 4-4 and with the Predators on the power play, Weber took a perfect feed from Matt Cullen and blasted a high slapshot past Joey MacDonald from the face-off dot to put Nashville back into the lead at 14:28.
Weber’s 18th goal ties him with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson for second in the NHL among defencemen, one back of Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien.
Cullen added his seventh goal of the season at 17:08 on a deflection and that would turn out to be the winning goal after Mike Cammalleri’s second of the night 28 seconds later set up a furious final two-and-a-half minutes for the Flames, who buzzed around the Predators net and did everything but tie it against back-up goaltender Carter Hutton.
Victor Bartley, Patric Hornqvist and Viktor Stalberg scored for Nashville (30-31-10), which snapped a three-game losing skid, and Centre Calle Jarnkrok had an assist in his NHL debut.
Kris Russell, Jiri Hudler and Mikael Backlund also scored for Calgary (28-35-7), which lost for only the third time in their last dozen games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Leading 2-1 after the first period, Nashville increased its margin to two when Hornqvist batted a centring pass out of the air and past rookie goaltender Joni Ortio at 4:10.
It was the first of five goals in a wide open, back and forth and middle period in which both starting goaltenders would be pulled.
Cammalleri’s eighth goal in his last 10 games drew the Flames back to within one at 6:23. With the puck teed up to him in the slot by Russell, Cammalleri blasted a slapshot past Pekka Rinne for his 21st goal.
Fifty-one seconds later, the game was back even with Mark Giordano’s snapshot from the blue-line being tipped by Hudler to tie it 3-3.
It didn’t remain that way for long, however, as less than a minute later the Predators struck back on Stalberg’s eighth of the year, which prompted Flames coach Bob Hartley to bring in veteran back-up goaltender MacDonald.
Ortio left after giving up four goals on 13 shots.
It was just over five minutes later when Rinne would join Ortio as a spectator.
Showing tremendous hustle, Lance Bouma raced in after Brian McGrattan’s dump-in and got to the puck along the end boards before Rinne was able to play it. Bouma immediately sent a pass in front that Backlund fired into the empty net with Rinne caught way out of position.
In his 33-plus minutes, Rinne stopped 14 of the 18 shots he faced.
Hutton stopped 10-of-11 shots to earn the victory and improve to 16-11-4.
MacDonald was tagged with the loss to fall to 4-4-1. He had six saves on eight shots.
Nashville got off to a fast start beating Ortio on both of its first two shots.
At 5:10, Bartley scored his first NHL goal, one-timing a slapshot through Ortio’s pads after a nice pass from Craig Smith.
Just 49 seconds later, Weber finished off a give-and-go with Mike Fisher on an odd-man rush to make it 2-0 for the visitors.
Looking for a spark, the Flames got it just before the first ended on Russell’s power play goal with 34 seconds left in the period.
It’s the fourth time in a row that Calgary has pulled its starting goaltender and ended up winning.
Notes: Kenny Agostino made his NHL debut for the Flames. He played left wing on a line with rookies Sean Monahan and Joe Colborne. Agostino’s parents flew in from New Jersey for the game... Calgary RW Jiri Hudler (upper body) returned after missing seven games... Sidelined with upper body injuries sustained in Nashville’s last game were LW Nick Spaling, RW Patrick Eaves and C Paul Gaustad.... Agostino is the eighth player to make his NHL debut with the Flames this season.
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