Leggy has been hot lately. He needs to get even hotter. (PHOTO: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)

Gameday: Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators, 4/2/13

COLORADO AVALANCHE

at NASHVILLE PREDATORS

April 2nd, 2013
Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, Tennessee
7:00 p.m. CDT
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee
Colorado leads season series 2-0

The Nashville Predators and the Colorado Avalanche meet for the final time this season tonight at Bridgestone Arena. Colorado has taken both previous games by one-goal margins.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

(12-19-4, 5th in Northwest)

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars

P.A. Parenteau has enjoyed success against Nashville this season. (PHOTO: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

One out of every seven points Colorado has earned this year has come against the Nashville Predators. The only other team the Avalanche have beaten twice is the hapless Calgary Flames, and even they picked up a win against Colorado last time around.

Key players

P.A. Parenteau (14G-21A) picked up an assist on the game-winner against Nashville in overtime on Saturday, his third against the Preds this season. Along with Matt Duchene (14G-20A) he is the engine of the Colorado offense.

Semyon Varlamov (10-17-3, 2.99 GAA, .904 SV%) got the start in lat night’s 3-2 loss to Detroit. That means the Preds could face former Conn Smythe winner J.S. Giguere (2-2-1, 2.93, .906).

Others to watch

Ryan O’Reilly (4G-9A) didn’t do much last game against the Preds, but he put up 13 points in his first 13 games with the team since finally signing a new contract.

Center John Mitchell (9G-8A) has been scoring at a higher rate this season than at any point in his previous four NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs and Rangers, mostly thanks to scoring goals at a 17.6 percent rate.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

(14-14-8, 5th in Central)

NHL: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks

Pekka stopped 38 of 40 shots last night and is read to go again tonight. (PHOTO: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville needs wins right now, but even more it needs not to lose in regulation. The team has managed to take both of its last two games at least to overtime.

Key players

Pekka Rinne (13-10-7, 2.33, .912) is going to have to rest at some point, but it looks like he will be getting the back-to-back start tonight. He was stellar in last night’s loss to Chicago, stopping 38 of the 40 shots directed at him by one of the league’s top offenses.

The Preds are without both Mike Fisher (9G-10A) and Gabriel Bourque (11G-5A) tonight. That means the team desperately needs contributions from veterans like Martin Erat (4G-17A), David Legwand (9G-10A), and Patric Hornqvist (3G-7A) to step up.

Others to watch

Captain Shea Weber (7G-13A) has been slightly less effective putting up points lately, but he’s still a shutdown force extraordinaire in the defensive zone. Without his presence Nashville probably wouldn’t have even the slimmest of playoff hopes.

Taylor Beck (2G-2A) has provided a spark in his seven games with the Predators this season. His goal in the third period against Chicago tied the game and earned Nashville a desperately needed point in the standings.

Bottom line

Colorado has long since disappeared from the playoff picture, but they can still play spoiler. The Nashville Predators, meanwhile, have to avoid losing in regulation to keep any semblance of hope alive. Sooner or later they have to start winning, though, and Colorado, with its 2-13-3 road record, is as soft an opponent as they’ll face the rest of the way. If they don’t leave Bridgestone tonight with a victory, the Preds’ chances will be almost beyond repair.

Tags: Colorado Avalanche Nashville Predators