Predators Inch Closer To Playoff Berth With 3-2 Win Over Avalanche

By Amanda DiPaolo

The Nashville Predators moved into sixth spot in the Western Conference with a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night at Pepsi Center in Denver. With the Stars and the Kings both losing Thursday night, the Predators jump over the Ducks and are tied with Los Angeles with 94 points on the season.

Colin Wilson got the Predators on the board 15:35 into the first period. Blake Geoffrion won the battle for the puck along the boards and found Matt Halischuk behind the net. Halischuk passed the puck to Wilson who one-timed the puck from the slot to beat Avalanche goaltender Brian Elliot.

It was Wilson’s 16th goal of the season.

The Predators went up 2-0 when Martin Erat passed the puck from behind the net to Cody Franson at the point. Franson’s shot was deflected into the net by Jordin Tootoo who, along with David Legwand, was standing in front of the net. It was Tootoo’s sixth goal of the season.

With just three minutes left in the middle frame, Tootoo got leveled by John-Michael Liles. He was slow to get up and off the ice. Tootoo did not return to the game and is cited as having an upper-body injury. Tootoo had 3 points in the last four games, including 2 goals and 1 assist.

Nashville took a commanding 3-0 lead 12:52 left in regulation when Erat picked up his 16th goal of the season on the power play. With Cody McCleod in the box for roughing Shane O’Brien after a whistle, Erat picked up his 400th point when he took the puck off the stick of Ryan O’Byrne, walked in all alone to score on Elliott.

With 6:35 left to play, and just 43 seconds after Erat scored on the power play, Paul Stastny got the Avalanche on the board beating Rinne high, glove side. The goal was Stastyn’s 22nd of the season. Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk picked up the assists.

Colorado made a game of it, coming within one goal of typing the game when they pulled Elliott for the extra attacker. David Jones picked up his 26th goals of the season when he scored with 1:02 left on the clock — but ultimately Nashville was able to escape the third period with the two points intact.

For the first time in franchise history, Nashville swept the season series against the Avalanche, winning all four games. Up next, the Predators now return home to wrap up the season series against the Red Wings with a 2pm start time on Saturday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena.

Additional Game Notes:

With his two-point night, Martin Erat collected his 400th career point.

The Predators had a scary moment when Erat stopped a Shea Weber slap shot with his leg. In the spring of 2009, Erat broke his leg by getting in the way of a Weber bullet. Erat left the bench to get checked out but promptly returned.

Nashville didn’t take any penalties in the game.

JP Dumont was Nashville’s healthy scratch. Halischuk took his place in the lineup.

Pekka Rinne now enjoys a 31-21-8 record on the season.

The Avs haven’t won at home in regulation since January 24th when they beat the St. Louis Blues by a 4-3 score.

Photo credit: Getty Images


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