By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators doubled the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Bridgestone Arena. It was the Predators second win in a row. Nashville has picked up points in 6 of the last 7 games, but are still ninth in the Western Conference
Nashville went on its first power play 2:12 into the first period. Brandon Yip served a bench minor for too many men on the ice.
Peter Budaj made what looked like an impossible toe save in the dying seconds of the penalty but Nashville scored 6 seconds later, just 4 seconds after the man advantage expired.
Predators Captain Shea Weber picked up his 15th goal of the season at 4:16 into the first period. Weber just needs one more goal to tie the franchise record for most goals scored by a defenseman. Joel Ward and Marty Erat picked up the assists.
Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne likes when Nashville scores goals, taking pressure of the back-end of the rink. “It’s good. I try not to think too much but just every night [I] try to give my team a chance to win, and they give me a chance to win. It goes hand in hand. It’s no lie we’ve been struggling to score goals,” Rinne said. But Rinne added, “Lately, we’ve been doing a pretty good job. Also, defensively, in the third period, we played pretty well when the game was on the line.”
With 8:24 left in the opening frame, the Predators took a 2-0 lead.
Blake Geoffrion had the puck in front of the Colorado net, found Kevin Klein skating down into the play and passed the puck to the defenseman. Klein took the shot that hit traffic in front of the net. The puck went to Matt Halischuk who beat Budaj for his second goal of the season.
Colorado nearly cut the Predators lead in half. With just 2:18 left in the period, Jay McClement shot the puck on goal. Rinne made the stop, but wasn’t sure and had to look behind him.
The second period featured three goals, a fight, a five-on-three penalty kill for the Predators, and a called-off goal.
The Avalanche did cut the lead in half early in the second period when Ryan O’Reilly, brother of Predator Cal O’Reilly, made it a 2-1 game. There was a scramble in front of the Predators net. With Klein and Blum behind Rinne, the trio were unable to keep the puck out of the net.
It looked like O’Reillyhad scored his second goal of the game to tie things up at 2, but he batted the puck with a high-stick into the net. Rinne was quick to point it out to the officials and, after the officials conferred, the goal was called back.
The Predators killed off 43 seconds of a five-on-three and less than a minute after the second penalty expired took a 3-1 lead.
Joel Ward’s 10th goal of the season was highlight-reel worthy. Ward broke his stick behind the net and went back to the bench for a new one. Skating back into the play he intercepted a clearing attempt and skated in all alone on Budaj. Ward patiently waited for Budajto commit and with the goaltender out of position, Ward skated the puck right into the empty net. The goal was unassisted.
“It always feels good.” Ward said about being a part of an offensive-minded line. “It’s good confidence to contribute offensively. I just try to get them to the puck as quick as I can, go to the net and put my stick down.”
But Nashville would be unable to hold on to the 2-goal lead heading into the third period. With 30 seconds left in the second period Daniel Winnik picked up his ninth goal of the season to bring the Avalanche within one of tying the game.
With just 17 seconds left in the second period, Jordin Tootoo got into a fight with Ryan Wilson. After the game, Tootoo commented on his performance. “I don’t think you see any bruises on my face. It’s always nice to dish it out, but at the same time, you’ve got to expect it when it happens. Obviously, you want to hit the guy more than he hits you.”
Tootoo says it is part of his job to bring energy. Head Coach Barry Trotz agrees. “He and Wilson were going at each other, and I said ‘Well, if he’s willing to go for it.’ I didn’t send him out or anything like that. I just said, ‘If he’s out there and you want to go, go. Instead of chatting at each other, you guys can settle it as men.’”
The third period featured breakaways from O’Reilly and Erat but neither forward was able to score for their respective teams.
Erat added an empty net goal with less than a second left on the clock to make it a 4-2 game.
The Predators have a difficult week ahead of them hosting Los Angeles, Boston, Detroit before going to Buffalo next Sunday.
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