Predators make the playoffs despite 5-4 OT loss to Flames

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Matthew Tkachuk forced overtime by scoring with a second left in the third and Elias Lindholm’s OT goal secured the Calgary Flames’ 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

Despite losing its third straight, Nashville clinched a wild-card spot thanks to Dallas’ shootout win over Vegas.

Dillon Dube scored twice and Noah Hanifin also had a goal for Calgary, winners of three straight. Dan Vladar made 19 saves.

“What that game did for us, bringing us together at this time of year, that game did so much more for us than people would probably expect,” Tkachuk said.

Filip Forsberg scored two power-play goals, Matt Duchene had a goal and two assists and Roman Josi had one goal and one assist for the Predators.

“Yeah, it’s tough,” Josi said of Tkachuk's goal, which was a wraparound under David Rittich's pad. “Like, doesn’t happen too often that you get scored on with 0.1 seconds. But it happened, and we have to regroup. I liked our effort. I thought we played hard.”

Juuse Saros made 30 saves for Nashville but left the game with 6:32 remaining favoring his left leg and was replaced by Rittich, who made three saves.

“I don’t have any update on him,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “He’s still getting evaluated. I haven’t talked to the trainer or anything yet, so we’ll probably have more on that tomorrow.”

In overtime, Lindholm picked up a rebound and beat Rittich with a wrist shot.

With the game tied at two entering the third, Forsberg and Hanifin traded power-play goals early, then Forsberg scored another man-advantage goal at 9:35.

“That’s what playoffs are … up one, down one,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “You have to play every shift like it’s the one that will be the difference. That’s the way it works.”

Dube scored the game’s first goal at 4:02 of the opening period on a power play. Josi made it 1-1 at 5:41 of the second.

Ryan Johansen won a faceoff to Philip Tomasino, who sent a pass to Josi. He navigated to the slot and unchecked there, fired a slap shot by Vladar for his 22nd goal of the season.

Duchene gave Nashville its first lead at 8:08 of the second.

Mikael Granlund’s shot attempt from the left side tipped off the skate of Flames defenseman Christopher Tanev and landed right on the tape of Duchene’s stick on the right side, where he had an open net for his 42nd goal of the season.

Dube struck again at 13:14 of the second off the rush when his shot from the slot tipped off the stick of Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm.

POTENTIAL PLAYOFF OPPONENTS

Tuesday may have been a preview of a potential first-round Western Conference playoff matchup. The Flames are already locked in as the Pacific Division winners and will be the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

“Back and forth, ultimately we hadn’t beaten these guys this year, so if we do run into them, it’s nice to have the confidence that we can beat them,” Tkachuk said.

If the Predators finish in the top wild-card spot, they will play the Flames in the first round. Dallas and Vegas are fighting for the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“Yeah, definitely don’t like each other much,” Josi said. “You can tell on the ice.”

600 FOR JOHNNY HOCKEY

Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau skated in his 600th career NHL game. The 28-year-old has spent his entire career with Calgary and has set career highs in goals (39), assists (72) and points (111).

His 111 points are the second-highest total in Calgary’s franchise history, trailing only Kent Nilsson who posted 131 in 1980-81.

WHAT’S NEXT

Predators: At Colorado Thursday to begin a two-game road trip to conclude the regular season.

Flames: Visit Minnesota on Thursday.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Jim Diamond, The Associated Press

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