For the second game in a row, the Nashville Predators scored five goals, as they manhandled the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Thursday night in a 5-1 victory.
The Preds got goals from five different players including Sergei Kostitsyn, Cody Franson, Matt Halischuk, David Legwand, and Colin Wilson. Franson and Legwand added assists and Patric Hornqvist had two helpers for two-goal games.
The lone Avalanche goal came from Matt Duchene, long after the game was decided, spoiling Pekka Rinne’s shut out.
Rinne was unbelievable for the entire game, stopping 32 of 33 Colorado shots. Many of his saves were of the highlight reel variety. You could really see the disappointment when he lost the shutout after such a stellar performance. Craig Anderson stopped 23 of 28 Preds shots in taking the loss.
Coach Barry Trotz worked his bench well, rolling four lines in the mile-high altitude which resulted in an evenly spread workload for most of the team.
The Predators got on the board first at 3:15 when the Preds took advantage of a three on two mismatch and when Marcel Goc passed to Marty Erat who gave Kostitsyn a perfect set up to score the goal and take a quick 1-0 lead.
Nashville scored again late in the period at 16:37 when David Legwand worked the puck away from the right wall and sent it to Hornqvist who fed it to Franson who nailed it from the left circle to make it 2-0 Predators.
The best play of the first period was by Rinne when he stopped a series of shots at 14:06 doing some interesting acrobatics to prevent goals on several quick scoring chances for the Avs.
The Preds out shot the Avs, 9-8. The most interesting statistic of the period, however was the Avalanche out-hitting the Preds, 11-0.
One of the more controversial no goal calls that we have seen in a while occurred after a series of four shots in a row on Rinne with the last one by Ryan Stoa at 12:49 going into the goal and bouncing back out. After an extended review, and in spite of a clear overhead picture, the officials ruled that it was not a goal.
For the period, the Avs out shot the Preds, 12-7.
Just as the third period was starting at 2:05, Halischuk got his first goal as a Predator on a wrap-around from behind the net after J.P. Dumont sent the puck behind the net into a good position.
At 4:22, Legwand brought the puck down the ice on Anderson’s left in an odd man situation and the Avs defender was expecting a pass to Wilson, giving Legwand a clear shot to put it past Anderson from the faceoff circle to make it 4-0 Predators.
One of the most aggressive goals the Preds have scored lately came from Wilson at 9:57 when he took the puck from center ice and went through traffic and straight for the net and back-handed it past Anderson to make it 5-0.
After a gallant effort all game, Duchene ended Rinne’s shutout bid when he was left alone in front of the Preds net and recovered a rebound to cut the lead to 5-1.
In the final period, Colorado out shot the Preds, 13-12.
The win left Nashville clearly in control of fourth place in the Western Conference with 58 points, six behind the Detroit Red Wings, the Central Division leader, and seven behind Vancouver.
The Predators will have a day off in Denver for an unspecified team building activity before heading to Edmonton for Sunday’s game with the Oilers.