The scenario must be oddly comforting to Curtis Glencross.
Go to the front of the net, battle hard and then pot the game-winning goal.
For the second straight outing, Glencross came up with the deciding goal — this time hammering home a goalmouth rebound to break a deadlock, as the Calgary Flames beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 Sunday night at the Saddledome.
“We kept trying to get pucks and bodies to the net all night,” said Glencross, who was the beneficiary of work from linemates Rene Bourque and Olli Jokinen. “I was coming in late, and the puck was in the slot. Olli tried to put it out front. It was sitting there for me. I had the open net. It’s nice to get one of those.”
With the crucial win in the NHL’s Western Conference playoff race, the Flames
(35-24-9) vault into fifth spot at 79 points.
The Predators (33-24-9) stay stuck in 10th position with 75 points.
During the past 10 days, the Flames have four wins over teams chasing them.
The next two tilts — in Dallas Wednesday and in Phoenix Thursday — are against teams directly behind them.
Glencross followed up a three-point night in Friday’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets with his 22nd goal this season. There was much talk about the pending unrestricted free agent being traded before Monday’s trade deadline, but the Flames wisely chose to keep him.
He’s provided two of his four game-winning goals this season in the span of three days.
On Friday against the Blue Jackets, Glencross tipped home an Anton Babchuk point-shot while standing on the top of the crease.
The meeting with the Predators had the makings of a playoff tilt. There was plenty of scoring chances and a fair bit of intensity, showing just how important the game was to both teams.
The Preds put on a wild final push in the closing minute, with defenceman Shea Weber firing a blazing slapshot and a handful of players waving at the rebound unsuccessfully.
The visitors came out flying the first period, getting goals from Martin Erat and Ryan Suter sandwiched around a Flmaes’ Mark Giordano ping-ponger to take a 2-1 lead into the break.
Jarome Iginla scored on a penalty shot early in the second to join an elite group of 10 players with 30 goals in
10 straight seasons and to knot the affair at 2-2.
Two nights earlier, the Flames gave up two penalty shots to the Jackets but both were unsuccessful. This one gave the Flames a chance to win. After being hauled down by Sergei Kostitsyn, Iginla went in for a deke to his forehand and then slid the puck under Pekka Rinne.
“I wanna know how many people would have bet on that in Vegas — that he would get his 30th on a penalty shot,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “To do it down 2-1, it’s a big goal. That’s a turning point. All of a sudden we were tied 2-2 and having the momentum.”
Although they were outplayed through 20 minutes, the Flames controlled the tempo over the final 40, outshooting the Predators 27-14 during that time.
“I thought our third was a reflection of how we played in the second. It wasn’t a strong first,” Sutter said.
“Nashville has a quick team, and we allowed them to use their speed on us in the first period. We regrouped after the first, and we played the way we like in the second.”