NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 12th (All times eastern)
Colorado Avalanche (26-33-8) at Nashville Predators (34-24-10), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Predators head coach Barry Trotz knows his team will have to win a bunch of close games if they hope to make the playoffs. However, he'll take the occasional larger margin of victory too.
Coming off a shutout victory last time out, Nashville continues a five-game homestand seeking a fourth straight victory over the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Bridgestone Arena.
Five of Nashville's previous six games heading into Thursday's meeting with Minnesota had been decided by just one goal, with the Predators losing four of them. The only contest not to be decided by the close margin was a 3-0 victory over the NHL-leading Canucks on March 3, and the Preds came through with a 4-0 triumph over the Wild.
Nashville scored three times in the first period to take the pressure off Pekka Rinne, who made 19 saves for his sixth shutout of the season.
"There are some games where we are going to have to win like we did tonight and there are some games where we are going to have to win 1-0, we're going to have to win 2-1, we're going to have to win 3-2 and get points," said Trotz.
Nick Spaling scored twice and both Martin Erat and Joel Ward had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who won for just the third time in their last 10 games and sit three points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
David Legwand assisted on two scores to give him a goal and five helpers over his last four games.
After the Preds began their season series against the Avalanche with a four- goal road victory back in January, February's rematch in Nashville was a bit closer. However, the Predators got a goal and two assists from Erat and 15 saves by Rinne in a 5-3 victory, their third straight and fifth in the past six meetings overall.
Nashville has also won three straight and nine of the last 12 played in the Music City in this series. The Predators began their homestand with a victory last time out to improve to 16-7-7 as the host this season. The win also began a span that sees the Preds play 12 of their final 15 games at Bridgestone Arena.
Rinne is 5-3-0 with a 2.62 goals-against average in his career versus Colorado and none of his 20 career shutouts have come versus the Avalanche.
The Avs will be hoping to snap a seven-game skid tonight and they lost for the 17th time in 18 games with last night's 6-2 setback to the Ducks. Ryan O'Reilly and David Jones had the goals, while Brian Elliott yielded all six goals on 33 shots.
"They came out with a little more jump and we got on our heels," said Avs defenseman Ryan Wilson. "We did not stick to our game plan."
Colorado, which is now just five points ahead of Edmonton for last in the Western Conference, played without defenseman John-Michael Liles for the first time this year due to a knee injury.
The Avalanche also lost Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny to injury last night. Hejduk, playing in his 899th career game, suffered a shoulder ailment, while Stastny has a back issue.
It is unknown if Hejduk will get a chance at becoming the third player in Avalanche/Nordiques history to play in at least 900 games with the franchise, joining Joe Sakic and Adam Foote. Hejduk would be the first to play all 900 games since the club relocated to Denver.
Colorado begins a four-game road trip tonight and has lost four straight and nine of its last 10 on the road.
Peter Budaj could get the call in net tonight and is 6-4-0 with a 2.37 GAA versus the Predators.
03/12 10:55:07 ET