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Avs Building Off Solid Homestand

Colorado goes 3-0-1 at Pepsi Center after overtime loss to Nashville

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Getting seven of eight possible points makes for a more than successful homestand, but not earning that last one stung a bit for the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avs lost 4-3 in overtime to the Nashville Predators on Sunday afternoon at Pepsi Center, ending its three-game winning streak. Mikko Rantanen scored late in the third period to give Colorado the lead, but Nashville tied the contest in the closing minutes and tallied the winner early in the OT session.

"I liked the way we played. We played the right way again," said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar after the contest. "We had a 60-minute game; I thought we got better as the game went on. It was a pretty good, all-around effort from our group. Pretty tight contest. They catch a break at the end and tie it up and then get the extra point. It's disappointing not to get the two because I thought we played well enough to get the two and you're leading late, but good job by our guys coming back in the third period."

Colorado trailed 2-1 entering the third period, but Matt Nieto tied the outing on a shot that went off Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne's arm and the stick of Kevin Fiala at 4:38 of the stanza. Nieto has now tallied in a career-high, three-straight games.

"The third was how we wanted to play, and we had some chances," Rantanen said. "It is a tough loss, but we have to go forward."

The Avalanche was going for its first four-game homestand sweep since Dec. 17-23, 2011 and to improve its standing in the playoff race. The team did to a certain extent as Colorado is still just one point out of a Western Conference wild-card spot and now only three points out of earning one of the Central Division's three automatic playoff bids.

Video: Coach Bednar on the OT loss to Nashville

Sunday's matinee was kind of built up as a measuring-stick game for the Avs, as they were facing a division foe in Nashville that was coming off a Stanley Cup run the year before and has the best record in the Western Conference. The Preds have now won a franchise-best eight straight games and picked up comeback victories in each of the last four.

"It was a tough game. They are a really good team, best in our division," said Carl Soderberg. "I thought we stepped up in the third and played with them a little bit. It's good for us to feel that we can compete with those teams."

After playing 13-of-16 away from home, Colorado is now in a stretch that has the team playing 11-of-17 in its friendly confines, a place where it has had plenty of success throughout the season.

The Avs have earned 48 of their 76 total points at home (23-8-2), and their 23 wins are fourth most in the league. Colorado averages 2.64 goals per game at home, tied for third in the NHL.

Over the recent four-game stretch, the Avalanche outscored its opponents 18-8 and received offensive production throughout its lineup

"I think we're going to build off the homestand. In all four of these games, we played the right way," Bednar said. "We were committed to defending, our special teams were good, we had contributions from all four lines, that is what you need at this time of the year. You got to have someone different step up all the time, and make sure you don't have any passengers on your bench. I thought we did that over the course of the homestand."

Colorado now goes on the road for four of its next five outings, beginning Tuesday in Chicago. The squad gets a rematch versus Nashville in less than two weeks as it hosts the series finale on March 16.

STAYING HOT

A couple Avs' streaks continued as Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie assisted on Mikko Rantanen's 22nd goal of the season in the third period.

Video: NSH@COL: Rantanen, MacKinnon combine for smooth PPG

MacKinnon's four-game goal streak came to an end in the contest, but the point streak lived with his primary assist on Rantanen's tally. He now has six goals and six assists on his five-game streak and has tallied seven times and has nine helpers since returning from an upper-body injury on Feb. 18. The Avalanche center is tied for fifth in the league in scoring with 77 points (31 goals and 46 assists).

Barrie now has points in each of his last three games and 11 (three goals and eight assists) in the last seven outings. He has 42 points (eight goals and 34 assists) in 51 contests this year and is second among league defensemen in points per game (tied-0.82) behind the Dallas Stars' John Klingberg (0.85).

Rantanen's tally extended his point streak to four contests (three goals and five assists). He has 14 points (five goals and nine assists) in his last 12 outings.

BIG Z WITH BIG GOAL

Nikita Zadorov opened the Avs' scoring with his sixth goal of the season midway through the opening period.

Video: NSH@COL: Zadorov scores after exiting penalty box

Zadorov's marker came moments after he left the penalty box after serving a high-sticking infraction. Upon leaving the box, he received a pass from Carl Soderberg in the neutral zone, raced up the ice and sent a snap shot low, short-side past Pekka Rinne to tie the game at 1-1.

The tally extended his career highs for goals (six) and points (18) in a season. His 12 assists on the year are tied for his personal best, previously set in 2014-15.

LINEUP NOTES

Nail Yakupov returned to the Avalanche lineup after being a healthy scratch for the past four games. He replaced Colin Wilson, who was out after suffering a concussion in the team's last contest on Friday versus the Minnesota Wild.

The right wing began the contest on the fourth line with Gabriel Bourque and Dominic Toninato.

J.T. Compher played in Wilson's former spot on a combo with fellow rookies Tyson Jost and Alexander Kerfoot. The three first-year forwards are also roommates.

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