PREDATORS (14-14-6) at AVALANCHE (11-18-4)
TV: FS-Tennessee, ALTITUDE
Last 10: Nashville 4-5-1, Colorado 2-8-0
Season series: This is the second of three meetings between clubs situated outside of the Western Conference's top eight entering Friday. Colorado took the first meeting 6-5 on Feb. 18, and the teams will wrap up their series in Nashville on April 2.
Big story: Firmly placed at the bottom of the conference with 26 points, the Avalanche are swiftly approaching a third straight season missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nashville was two points out of a playoff spot entering Friday, and with an upcoming stretch in which they'll play eight of 10 games at home, they're looking to make a push.
Predators: After winning the first three games of a four-game homestand, Nashville appeared poised to make a run entering a pivotal matchup against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena.
In a meeting between teams known for keeping the puck out of the net, the opening period was a wild one. Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal started the scoring 1:46 into the game and the floodgates opened from there. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne was chased from the crease after the Coyotes took a 3-0 lead in less than four minutes, and by the time 20 minutes were over, Phoenix led Nashville 6-3, with Rostislav Klesla notching four assists in the period.
"I've been here a long time and I haven't seen anything like that," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "They scored three goals on three shots. They had five goals on six shots. Mentally, that's pretty stunning because that doesn't happen very often."
Avalanche: With a 2-2-1 record to open March, Colorado showed signs of life after posting an encouraging 5-4-3 record in February. But the team was mired in a three-game losing skid when it visited the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
Against their Northwest Division rival, the Avalanche fell behind when Alexandre Burrows opened the scoring 4:27 into the first period. But the last-place Avalanche kept fighting, outshooting the Canucks 21-13 through 40 minutes.
Their efforts finally bore fruit when Matt Duchene scored his 13th goal of the season to tie the game 4:02 into the third period. Colorado carried the play through the first part of the third, but the veteran Vancouver squad took the game over in the latter half. Daniel Sedin gave Vancouver a lead midway through the period, and Henrik Sedin and Chris Higgins each scored an empty-net goal in the closing minute of regulation as the Avalanche suffered a 4-1 loss despite outshooting their opponents 33-20.
Who's hot: Predators forward Mike Fisher has nine points in an eight-game points streak. Forward Gabriel Bourque has four points in his past three games. … Avalanche forward PA Parenteau has six points during a four-game points streak. Forward Gabriel Landeskog has six points in his past seven games.
Injury report: The Predators will welcome forward Craig Smith and Paul Gaustad back to their lineup, but Fisher (bruised hand) is doubtful. Forward Colin Wilson (upper body) and defenseman Scott Hannan (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Avalanche forwards David Jones (knee) and Paul Stastny (foot) appear to be out, who also have forward Steve Downie (knee surgery) and defenseman Ryan Wilson (ankle) on IR.
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