Bitter 'Ville to swallow

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Adversity is nothing new to the Calgary Flames.

They've had to deal with serious injuries, lengthy scoring droughts and a rash of road woes this season.

Last night, they seemed cursed with a case of hard luck.

Despite plenty of scoring chances and generally outplaying the Nashville Predators, the Flames came out on the losing end of a 3-2 game at the Saddledome.

"That's hockey. They got the bounces tonight," said Flames winger Mike Leclerc, who had a glorious chance in the second period land on top of the net rather than inside.

"We made some strong plays. We had some good shots, we had traffic on them.

"If we play like that, we're going to get more goals."

The bad luck started quickly, with defenceman Rhett Warrener leaving the game for good early in the first when his hit on Greg Johnson at centre ice went wrong.

Warrener tried to get up but collapsed when he put weight on his right leg and crawled part of the way to the bench. The Flames called his injury a charleyhorse and, with the trade deadline a day away, the team will have to hope it's not more serious.

Things got weirder from there.

After a slow start -- they didn't record their first shot on goal until 7:19 had passed -- the Flames set up shop around Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun for minutes at a time.

But despite a handful of great chances, the Flames came away emptyhanded.

Deflections went wide. A hard Dion Phaneuf wrist shot bounced off blueliner Kimmo Timonen's hand -- which forced the Predators' No. 44 out of the game for X-rays -- and into the post. Marcus Nilson watched helplessly as a sure goal bounced up and over his stick after another Phaneuf shot came off the boards and right to the Flames forward at the side of the empty net.

"It jumped over my stick. Seems to be the way it's going right now," said Nilson.

"All we can do is keep working hard and trying. Sometimes you bounces all the time and sometimes you never get them."

Phaneuf appeared to change his team's luck early in the second period. He tied the game 1-1 on the powerplay, one-timing Jarome Iginla's pass past Vokoun's left-handed blocker 51 seconds in.

But the Predators quickly restored their lead when David Legwand beat Bryan Marchment to his own juicy rebound for his second goal of the night after Kiprusoff kicked out the pad to make the initial stop.

Nashville padded its lead with a tricky shot by Preds captain Greg Johnson on a shorthanded rush.

The Flames appeared to score their second of the night late in the period. A scramble in front resulted in Jordan Leopold's first of the season but a too-many-men call negated the goal.

Vokoun was stellar in the final minutes to keep his team perfect in three games against the Flames this season.

"We had some chances in the third and we just couldn't bear down," said Flames winger Kristian Huselius, who brought the Flames within one 4:19 into the final period. "We played well in the third. We played desperate. But we've got to be ready from the start.

"I think that was the problem today. We finished the game pretty strong but we couldn't finish chances."


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