Predators tune up for playoffs in Colorado

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

PREDATORS (47-26-8) at AVALANCHE (42-33-6)

TV: FS-Tennessee (HD), ALTITUDE (HD)

Last 10: Nashville 6-4-0; Colorado 5-3-2

Season Series: Nashville has the chance to sweep the four-game season series with Colorado. The Predators won 4-2 in their last meeting at Bridgestone Arena on March 8, their eighth straight victory in the series. Sergei Kostitsyn notched the game-winning goal in the second period.

Big Story: The Predators will enter the night knowing what they need to clinch fourth place in the West and the home-ice edge in their first-round series -- if Detroit wins Saturday afternoon, the Preds can do it by getting a point. Colorado slipped out of playoff contention with losses in five of its last six, including a 5-2 loss at home to Columbus on Thursday.

Team Scope:

Predators: Nashville has persevered through a grueling home stretch to control its playoff destiny heading into the season finale. With wins in five of seven - including four against playoff-eligible teams - Nashville is in the driver's seat for fourth place, meaning the Predators would get to open the playoffs at home against either Detroit or Chicago.

Nashville shut out the Dallas Stars, a team fighting for its playoff life, 2-0 on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena in its home finale. Pekka Rinne, who missed Tuesday's game with an illness, picked up his NHL-leading 43rd win by making 28 saves.

"[Rinne] was really good," coach Barry Trotz said. "I was just worried. Anytime you get sick and the way he was it can really drain you. He responded good."

Avalanche: The Avs fell out of the playoff race by winning just once -- a 4-1 win at Calgary last Friday -- since March 20. Their postseason hopes ended Thursday when last-place Columbus came to the Pepsi Center and scored the last three goals of a 5-2 win that assured the Avs of an early summer.

"It's definitely a disappointing loss," Avalanche captain Milan Hejduk said. "We didn't take care of business like we wanted to do. We didn't play good enough. I felt like we were a little tight at times. It's the end of it."

Who's Hot: Mike Fisher leads the Predators in goals (24) and has two points in his last three games. … Colorado's David Jones has two goals in as many games.

Injury Report: With Rinne back in the lineup, only forward Brian McGrattan (upper body) is sidelined for Nashville. … Forward Ted McGinn played 17:59 for the Avalanche on Thursday despite a back problem.

Stat Pack: Rinne posted his 25th shutout in his 240th career start on Thursday night which marks the second-fastest among active NHL goaltenders, behind Evgeni Nabokov, who did it in his 236th start. Avalanche rookie Gabriel Landeskog has 52 points (22-30-52) and is tied with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the rookie point race. Nugent-Hopkins is in action against Vancouver and will play one hour after Landeskog's game starts.

Puck Drop: As Nashville was wrapping up its win against Dallas, Detroit suffered a 2-1 loss to New Jersey to put the Predators in the driver's seat.

"We were just worried about winning the game and see if they could put it back in our court," Trotz said. "We knew, as a coach, obviously we knew they had a real hard game in St. Louis. We were just hoping New Jersey would give us the honors of giving us a chance to be home ice, so we've got to go in there and see if we can get it."

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