The Predators try for their sixth straight victory Monday when they host the Flames in a matchup of division leaders.
Nashville (31-11-3), which leads the Central Division with 65 points and trails Anaheim by only three points for the top spot in the Western Conference, beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Saturday for its third five-game winning streak of the season.
Jerred Smithson had his first career two-goal game and goalie Chris Mason stopped 39 of 40 shots for the Predators, who have outscored opponents 22-10 during their winning streak despite going just 2-for-22 on the power play.
Smithson scored both of his goals in the first eight minutes of the first period, and Paul Kariya added his 15th tally of the season at 18:06 of the opening session as Nashville out to an early three-goal lead.
The Predators have scored a league-high 55 goals in the first period this season, while allowing only 33.
“It was shocking,” Smithson said. “We wanted to come out and play hard.”
The Predators have won six straight matchups against the Flames and have not lost in the series since a 4-0 road defeat on Jan. 22, 2004. Nashville is also 4-0-1 in the last five meetings with Calgary at Gaylord Entertainment Center.
Perhaps making matters easier for the Predators, Jarome Iginla, who leads Calgary with 53 points, has missed the last four games with a knee injury. Nonetheless, the Flames have also won five straight, including Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Edmonton.
“They’re missing Jarome Iginla,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “Now they’re, I won’t say destroying teams, but they’re really playing well now as a group. They’ve got their big guy out. A lot of times that happens. … Sometimes your team relies maybe on some of those key guys and you don’t have that team effort.”
Calgary’s current winning streak is one shy of its season high, set from Nov. 4-17. With 52 points, the Flames (24-15-4) hold a one-point lead in a tightly packed Northwest Division with all five teams separated by just six points.
“It’s big for us,” said Matthew Lombardi, who scored in the third period against the Oilers. “We’re working real good as a group right now. We’re coming out with a lot of pressure in the first period, and the team’s doing the little things that we need to do to win.”
“I have never thought about scoring a goal that much,” said Friesen, who signed with Calgary in July. “Hopefully you get one and you can get on a roll. I have never been through anything like that before. It was nice to get a goal, and it was nice that it helped us get a big win.”
Daymond Langkow failed to record a point for the first time in five games. He had three goals and four goals during his four-game points streak, and still has six goals and six assists in his last nine games.