Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hornqvist contributes on his birthday in Preds 5-3 win



The Nashville Predators defeated the Calgary Flames by a 5-3 score on Sunday night in front of the 11th sellout crowd of the season at Bridgestone Arena. Sergei Kostitsyn notched his first career hat trick to propel the Predators to the win. With the win, the Predators ended the season series with the Flames with a 3-1-0 record.

Calgary got the scoring started in the game when Jarome Iginla scored his 499th career goal. Iginla planted himself in front of the net, and was able to one-time the puck past Pekka Rinne on a great pass from Olli Jokinen, who was playing in his 1,000th career NHL game.

Kevin Klein, who made his return to the lineup after missing six games with complications from the flu, tied the game at one for the Predators when he rifled one past Miikka Kiprusoff from the point.

Kostitsyn scored his first goal of the night at 15:06 of the first period on a beautiful feed from Mike Fisher. Patric Hornqvist was able to keep the play alive behind the net and give the puck to Fisher, which resulted in essentially an open net goal for Kostitsyn.

"I saw Sergei on the point. I got it behind the net and tried to get separation between me and the D-man. (Fisher) just picked it up and made a great pass to Sergei. He really went hard for that, and it was a big goal to really get us going there," Hornqvist said.

Nashville used that momentum, and came out flying in the second period. Matt Halischuk scored his ninth goal of the season on a snap shot from right in front of the net.

Kostitsyn scored again at 5:59 of the second period on a 2-on-1 rush. He had Hornqvist on his left side, but opted to take the shot. He wristed one through the five-hole of Kiprusoff to give the Predators a 4-1 lead.

In the third period, the Flames would make a push to get back in the game. Rene Bourque and Brendan Morrison both scored for the Flames in the final frame, but Kostitsyn put the game away for the Predators with an empty-net hat trick goal.

It wasn't the typical Nashville vs. Calgary game. There was a lot of space for players to try and create offense, and the goaltending wasn't as sharp as it usually is.

"Usually it's 1-0 or 1-1 or whatever. I think it was a little sloppy there in the end for our side. We have to stay focused for 60 minutes. If we do that, we know we have a chance to win every single game," Hornqvist said.

Hornqvist celebrated his 25th birthday on Sunday night. He had two assists in the win, and had plans for a birthday celebration after the game.

"Hopefully it will be a good dinner here with a couple of teammates, and I've got a couple of friends in town," Hornqvist said.

Nashville doesn't play again until Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena against the Dallas Stars.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Sergei Kostitsyn(NSH)
2. Patric Hornqvist(NSH)
3. Matt Halischuk(NSH)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Sergei Kostitsyn(NSH)
2. Patric Hornqvist(NSH)
3. Jordin Tootoo(NSH)

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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