Grand ole robbery

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- The performance was worthy of a shutout.

Except the team that deserved victory was left with a tear in its beer in the country music capital of the world.

Despite outshooting, out-chancing, outworking, outhitting and pretty much outperforming the Nashville Predators in almost all aspects of the game, the Calgary Flames ended their November to remember on a sour note by falling 2-0 in Music City U.S.A. last night.

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter couldn't come up with a disparaging word for his troops.

"It's disappointing. It was a good effort. I guess we got stoned by their goaltender," said Sutter, whose club falls to 14-9-3.

"You could tell the way it was going who was going to score the first goal but we got better as the game went on. It was a tough loss."

The Flames came out flying in a first period. Problem was, nobody could put one past Predators netminder Tomas Vokoun.

In the first 20 minutes:

* Tony Amonte couldn't light the lamp with a one-timer to finish a two-on-one.

* Chris Simon's sharp-angled, close-in chance sailed across the front of the net.

* Jarome Iginla's deflection was denied.

* Marcus Nilson fanned on a one-timer while staring at a wide-open net.

And every Flame was left wondering how so many golden opportunities could result in so little, as summed up by Darren McCarty.

"We played well enough to win, we just didn't put the puck in the net," he said.

"It was imperative we came out strong in the first and we did.

"The ice was tilted the whole period and we couldn't put a puck behind him."

No such problem for the Predators.

With 87 seconds remaining in the opening period, Vernon Fiddler made good on his team's first real chance of the game.

Sprung on an odd-man rush after Vokoun made yet another save, Fiddler broke in on Chuck Kobasew, worked around the forward who was covering the position for Roman Hamrlik and drove to the net before slipping the puck past Miikka Kiprusoff.

The Predators and their 12,797 supporters at the Gaylord Entertainment Center couldn't breathe easy until Scott Hartnell added an insurance goal with 15 seconds remaining in the contest.

Iginla and the rest of the Flames left shaking their heads.

"It's a one-goal game until the last 15 seconds," Iginla said.

"Defensively, we were good and killed a lot of penalties.

"They didn't have a ton of shots or scoring chances but we've got to score goals.

"You can give them credit and Vokoun for making some good saves but we've got to find a way to score one goal in front of Kipper.

"We did a lot of things right but we've got to score on those chances."

If there is one area to criticize the Flames, it's the powerplay, which has gone ice cold in the last three games, including a zero-for-six performance last night.

Vokoun was the key to Nashville's perfect penalty killing but McCarty pointed out the need to ensure the opposition netminder doesn't make the difference.

"One of our keys before the game was to win the PK and powerplay wars and they won them tonight," he said.

"They did a good job killing them and when we did get the chances, Vokoun was there. We've got to find a way to score more goals."

Calgary continues its five-game road swing tomorrow in Detroit (5:30 p.m., PPV).


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