Curtis Glencross is as cowboy as they come so it was fitting that his second career hat trick was greeted to a hail of stetsons.
All three of his goals came in the third period as Calgary Flames won 6-3 over the Nashville Predators to extend their home winning streak to six games.
Glencross made it 4-1 at 1:14 when Lee Stempniak’s slapshot from the opposite wing rang off the goal post and caromed off him as he was driving the net.
After Mike Fisher got Nashville back within two at 3:15, Glencross struck again at 5:32, converting a set-up from Stempniak. The third came into an empty net with 20 seconds left, prompting white stetsons to be thrown onto the ice that were given away during what was billed as Western Night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“After I got the second, I said it would be kind of cool to see a bunch of cowboy hats come on the ice. It’s a little different, that doesn’t happen very often,” said Glencross, who helps out in the chuckwagon barns every summer during the Calgary Stampede. “Even the coaches came in after the game and said that’s fitting, it’s Cowboy Night and you get your hattie.”
Glencross has five points in the last two games since returning from an injured wrist. He leads the Flames with 12 goals.
“A good buddy of mine (2010 Canadian Country Music Association Male Artist of the Year) Gord Bamford comes out and sings the anthem. That’s all I listen to is country music, so for me, it was a nice change,” said the 29-year-old native of Kindersley, Sask.
The line of Glencross, Stempniak and Matt Stajan has combined for 12 points the past two games.
“Things weren’t going great for our line early in the game but we stuck with it, turned it around and ended up having a pretty good third period,” said Glencross.
Mark Giordano, Jiri Hudler and Blake Comeau also scored for Calgary (11-11-4).
Gabriel Bourque and David Legwand also scored for Nashville (11-11-6).
Calgary jumped out to a 2-0 lead eight minutes into the game, scoring on its first two shots against Pekka Rinne, who was promptly pulled by coach Barry Trotz for the second night in a row.
“It was that kind of start,” said Rinne, who was also pulled Thursday night after giving up four goals on 12 shots. “It’s embarrassing. I have to find a way to help my team.”
Giordano opened the scoring through a screen at 6:20, firing a perfect shot inside the goal post. The Flames went ahead 2-0 on a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play started by Mikael Backlund and Hudler that Comeau neatly finished off.
“When things aren’t going your way you try too hard. We didn’t do a really good job defensively, and we paid for it. But at the same time, I didn’t do anything to help us,” said Rinne.
The 30-year-old Finn, who entered the night with a 2.13 goals-against average and .919 save percentage, has had an odd year. While he leads the NHL with five shutouts, he’s also been pulled in four of his last eight starts.
“It wasn’t his fault, there were coverage breakdowns,” said Trotz. “We were in the situation where the guys are standing alone in front of our net and I’m not going to ask our goaltenders to make those kind of saves, so I pulled him real quick.”
After losing all three games on a disappointing California road trip to sink to last place in the Western Conference, the Flames have responded with consecutive wins at the Scotiabank Saddledome, also beating Detroit 5-2 on Wednesday.
“That was probably the lowest point of the season in L.A. Really disappointing to play those three games and come away without any points and get beat pretty handily,” said Stempniak. “It’s two good wins but our troubles have been consistency and playing well on the road and it’s a big challenge for us now, these next three games.”
Calgary will attempt to snap a six-game road winless skid when they start a three-game trip in Dallas on Monday.
After starting their five-game road trip with a win in Dallas, the Predators have dropped two in a row. They play Sunday night in Edmonton.
“Too many odd man rushes, we’re losing guys through the neutral zone and we’re not clogging it up like we need to. In our own zone we’re puck watching a little bit too much,” said Fisher. “We’re really not helping our goalies much, not giving them a chance, so we’ve got to do a better job of that and play with the puck a little bit more, and want the puck.”
Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff finished with 17 saves, while Predators backup goalie Chris Mason, with 16 saves, was tagged with the loss.
Notes: Last year against Calgary, Rinne was 3-1-0 with a 1.25 GAA and .958 save percentage ... Calgary iced the identical line-up that beat Detroit on Wednesday ... Nashville LW Sergei Kostitsyn was a healthy scratch. Inserted into his spot was C Chris Mueller, who was recalled Wednesday from Milwaukee (AHL). It was Mueller’s first game of the season and 20th of his career ... It was the first of three meetings between the two teams who will meet in Nashville on Thursday.