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Barrie Powers Avalanche Past Predators

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

It seemed inevitable that the Colorado Avalanche would eventually find the back of the net.

With the Nashville Predators hemmed in their own zone for most of a Colorado power play midway through the third period, Tyson Barrie took advantage of a little space that was given to him and recorded the go-ahead goal with nine minutes left in the stanza. Jack Skille added an empty-net tally late, and the Avs defeated the Predators 5-3 on Friday night at Pepsi Center.

Tyson Barrie

The Avalanche had a good sequence with the man advantage, cycling the puck around the zone and getting four shot attempts off before Barrie's puck found the back of the net with three seconds remaining on Miikka Salomaki's hooking penalty.

"We had a couple chances before that," Barrie said of his seventh goal of the season. "We did a good job of wearing them down, hemming them in. You never know when you are going to get one. It was a nice sequence by us to keep them in. It was a nice pass by [Nick] Holden, I was just trying to get a puck through and I was lucky that I got it."

Barrie said he was calling for the puck and Holden found him wide open at the top of the slot. The defenseman wound up before unleashing a wrist shot that flew over Pekka Rinne's right shoulder while Gabriel Landeskog was providing a screen.

The Avs had two shot attempts earlier on the power play that were blocked, so when Barrie found an opening, he made sure to hit his mark.

"Guys do such a good job of blocking shots now, sometimes it's tough to find lanes," he said. "I know I was trying to look by [Shea] Weber, and I couldn't see anything. It is tricky, but when you do get a chance in the slot you got to try and find a lane."

While Barrie has been fairly consistent offensively all season long, the rear guard seems to have taken his scoring to the next level this week. He has six points (three goals and three assists) during a season-high three-game point streak, which included a career-best four-point outing on Monday against the Los Angeles Kings.

The blueliner is now tied with Nathan MacKinnon for the team lead with four game-winning goals this season.

"It's a long season. There's points where you go through, maybe you're playing well, [but] maybe you feel you are not getting what you feel you deserve or whatever," Barrie said. "Then there are games where you play awful and get a few. I feel good right now, comfortable with my game and excited to try and keep it going."

Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy praised Barrie for his recent play.

"The only game Tyson played so-so was against Calgary (last Saturday), but he was sick before that, first game back," Roy said. "Other than that, he's been solid for us.

"I like the way he is playing right now."

Barrie's tally was the Avalanche's second on the power play for the night, as Jarome Iginla also scored in the first period. Colorado finished 2-for-6 on the power play, improving to 13-for-33 (39.4 percent) with the extra skater over the last nine games.

It is the seventh time during the nine-game stretch where the Avs have scored on the power play and the second instance where they recorded more than one redlighter.

"Power play got two big ones for us," Roy said. "PK killed an important one at the start of the third. You could not ask for anything better than this."

The Avalanche ranks sixth overall in the NHL on the power play at 21.8 percent, while sitting third at home at 28 percent. Colorado began this current run on Dec. 19 ranked 23rd overall in the league.

Blake Comeau said the primary reasons for the Avs' recent success have been from playing a more responsible defensive game and the improvement on special teams.

"We're getting timely goals," Comeau said. "Our power play is clicking, which has been huge for us. It's got us a couple wins as of late. I feel like our penalty kill has really improved as well. I feel like every night is different, but when you get all of that on different nights, it will give you a good chance for success."

Colorado is 9-2-2 in its last 13 games and is now tied with the Predators for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 45 points (Nashville holds the tiebreaker with a game in hand). The Avs have also posted a 9-2-1 record against Central-Division opponents.

KEEP CLIMBING

Jarome Iginla didn't have to wait too long for his 601st NHL goal.

Two games after recording his milestone 600th marker on Monday against the Los Angeles Kings, Iginla finished a rebound in front during a power play at 14:50 of the first period to get back on the scoreboard. Nathan MacKinnon's outside shot rebounded off Rinne and Carl Soderberg before the forward knocked in the puck at the right post.

The 38-year-old is now tied with Jari Kurri for 18th place on the all-time goals list and Alex Ovechkin for 25th place in the league's all-time power-play marker ranking with 183 tallies. Iginla had been tied with Dale Hawerchuk (182) on the man-advantage list.

HOMESTAND FINISHED

Colorado's season-long homestand came to an end on Friday, with the team going 3-1-1 during the five games. The Avalanche picked up wins in the final three contests, with the club beating Los Angeles 4-1 on Monday, St. Louis 4-3 on Wednesday and Nashville 5-3 on Friday.

The Avs' three victories in a row is also their longest win streak on home ice this season.

"We seemed to be more and more confident at home," Roy said. "Winning against L.A., winning against the Blues, tonight against these guys, I think it's good for our confidence."

The Avalanche will now head out for a quick one-game trip to Chicago on Sunday before returning to Pepsi Center for contests on Tuesday against Tampa Bay and Thursday against New Jersey. Friday's game ended a stretch of playing nine of 10 at home.

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