The Colorado Avalanche had good news and bad news going into Thursday night’s game against the Nashville Predators. The good news, Kyle Cumiskey was taken off the injured reserve list and was put back into the lineup. The bad news, Tomas Fleischmann will miss the rest of the season due to pulmonary emboli.
The Avs found out about Fleischmann late in the afternoon, after they already sent forward T.J. Galiardi to the Lake Erie Monsters and called up Ryan Stoa. Galiardi will likely be called back up and might replace Fleischmann on the line with Matt Duchene and Chris Stewart.
Cumiskey was paired with Adam Foote, whom he usually plays defense with. Matt Hunwick was the odd man out for the evening, as he was a coach’s decision not to play.
As for the game against the Predators; this is the first meeting between the two clubs. The Avs were looking to extend their two-game win streak to three, while the Predators were looking to win their second road game in a row.
As for every game the Avs go into, they tried their best to set the tempo of the game and get the puck down low behind Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.
That plan didn’t work well as the Predators caught the Avs sort of sleeping and sent a one-timer past Avs goalie Craig Anderson. Sergei Kostitsyn (12) received a beautiful pass from Martin Erat, giving the Predators the one-goal advantage.
The Avs, being the resilient team that they are, tried to get back into the game, but were unable to get anything past Rinne.
About half-way through the period, the Avs sent a flurry of shots at Rinne, but he stopped all of them, including a save on his stomach were he kicked the puck out with his skate.
Then, at the 16:37 mark in the first, Patric Hornqvist sent a one-timer pass from behind the net to Cody Franson (6), who blasted the shot from the point, to extend the Predators lead to two.
That would remain the same going into the first intermission.
The second period seemed to belong to the Predators, as they were dictating everything and not allowing the Avs anything in the neutral-zone.
The Predators continued their strong play and were given a great opportunity to widen the lead, when John-Michael Liles was called for tripping halfway through the second. The Avs did an excellent job of killing the penalty, by not allowing the Predators to get anything set up in the Avs zone.
After the Avs killed the penalty, they spent the next minute to minute and a half in the Predators zone. The Avs were cycling the puck and sent many shots towards Rinne and at one point during the surge; it appeared that Stoa tucked one past Rinne. However, play continued as the referee behind the net called no-goal. Play went on for about another 30 to 40 seconds before the Predators iced the puck. The referees went to the box to call Toronto to review the play. Following what seemed like an eternity, the referee confirmed that it was no-goal, due to inconclusive evidence to overturn the on-ice call.
“The initial call was no-goal,” said Paul Stastny. “I saw a replay on one of them and it was kind of hard to tell. Obviously it might have change the game, but I don’t think that matters too much; they out played us.”
The five Predators’ players weren’t complaining that the refs took so long to come to a conclusion, as they were able to recover from all that time spent in their zone.
Play continued on for the remainder of the period, with both teams going back and forth with a few chances here and there. By the end of the period, the Avs had another quick flurry of shots at Rinne, but the Predators’ goalie remained strong and preserved the shutout going into the second intermission.
The start of the third didn’t go so well for the Avs, as they allowed the Predators to score three minutes into the third. Matt Halischuk scored his first goal of the season, as he wrapped around the net and snuck the puck under Anderson.
It also didn’t take long for the Predators to broaden the lead to four, as David Legwand sent a shot top-shelf over Anderson’s stick side. The fourth goal came only a minute and a half after the Halischuk goal.
What seemed like a close game turned into a blow-out in the matter of minutes. The Predators made Anderson look like a block of Swiss cheese and were exploiting every hole.
Halfway through the third, just to salt the wound, the Predators scored on a rush out of their own zone. Colin Wilson scored his 12th goal of the season and put a comeback out of reach for the Avs.
The Avs, even though there wasn’t a chance they could come back, did manage to prevent Rinne from getting a shutout, as Duchene (19) scored off his own rebound with three minutes left to go in the game.
“I think we just have to be discipline,” said Duchene. “It starts with our top two lines. When you have guys that have skill, you want to have the puck and make plays. Sometimes you have to swallow the pride and get it in deep.”
The Avs looked flat during most of the game, even with the couple of chances they had.
It is unclear whether or not the cause of the lack of enthusiasm was due to the loss of Fleischmann or if the Predators just sucked the life out of the team with the early goal-against.
“I thought that we played into their game tonight,” said Coach Joe Sacco. “I thought that we turned the puck over way too frequently in the first period. Therefore it changed the game; we expended a lot of energy for no reason. We just turned the puck over too much.”
The loss to the Predators doesn’t transcend well, as the Avs host the Boston Bruins on Saturday, who have the hottest goalie in the NHL. In order to do well against the Bruins, the Avs are going to have to regroup in a timely manner.