Predators aim to continue mastery of Avalanche
Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 10:19 AMAVALANCHE (35-29-4) at PREDATORS (38-21-7)
TV: ALT (HD), SPSO
Colorado 7-3-0; Nashville 6-3-1
This marks the third of four regular-season meetings between these Western Conference foes. The Predators have won the previous two meetings this season, including a 3-2 overtime decision in Nashville on Jan. 12. David Legwand
scored the winner 4:26 into overtime to give Nashville its seventh straight victory over Colorado and ninth of 10 overall dating back to Feb. 4, 2010.
The Avalanche need all the points they can muster down the stretch with just 14 games remaining in the regular season in order to avoid missing the playoffs for the fourth time in the last six years. The Avs currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference race, tied with eighth-seeded San Jose in points, but have played three more games. The club has five games remaining on home ice and nine on the road, including a March 26 contest against the Sharks.
Seven players scored goals and 10 collected at least one assist as the Avalanche completed a two-game sweep of their home-and-home series with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday with a 7-1 victory. Right wing Steve Downie
, who missed Sunday's 2-0 win in Minnesota with a shoulder injury, had a career-high three assists in the second period. The Avalanche broke open a tight game with four goals in the second period, three of them coming on consecutive shots from Jan Hejda
, Mark Olver
and Ryan O'Reilly
. Goalie Semyon Varlamov
made 21 saves in the triumph.
The Los Angeles Kings scored five goals on Predators goalie Pekka Rinne
, the League leader in wins with 36, and chased him from the crease for the first time since Dec. 23 at Dallas. Rinne stopped 19 of 24 shots before being replaced by Anders Lindback
in the 5-4 loss to the Kings on Tuesday. The Predators are 1-2-0 against the Kings following Tuesday's loss.
"They're a good hockey team, they have a lot of good parts, they're playing quite well and they're playing in that playoff mode right now," coach Barry Trotz said of the Kings.
Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov
has limited opponents to five goals while posting a 5-1-0 record in his past six starts. During that stretch, he sports a 0.90 goals-against average, .964 save percentage and two shutouts.
Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis
(flu-like symptoms) returned to the lineup on Tuesday after playing three games with the team's AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. Fellow blueliner Kevin Klein
(upper body) has been out the last four games. … Colorado defenseman Ryan O'Byrne
(knee) is out and center Matt Duchene
(ankle) is questionable.
Downie has 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in seven games since being acquired by Colorado from Tampa Bay on Feb. 21. … Nashville has posted a 20-7-3 record in its last 30 games, outscoring the opposition 92-67 (plus-25), despite being outshot 933-821 (minus-112).
Avalanche rookie Gabriel Landeskog
leads all first-year players in shots (227), plus/minus (plus-22), takeaways (54) and is tied for the lead in goals (18) and points (43).