Peter Budaj Ryan SmythNotes & QuotesPhoto Gallery
Playing in only his ninth game of the year – and second since returning from an injury suffered on Oct. 23 against the Edmonton Oilers – Avalanche defenseman Jordan Leopold provided a third period tally to effectively ice the game in Colorado’s 3-1 victory over Nashville Saturday night at Pepsi Center.
Leopold gave the Avalanche a two-goal advantage on a blast from the right point at the 10:53 mark of the third period. The goal, Leopold’s first of the season, came with a delayed penalty being called on Nashville’s Scott Nichol.
“I was just trying to get it on net, look for a rebound or look for a play,” said Leopold. “The puck had eyes and it found it’s way in the net.”
The line combination of Paul Stastny
centering Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk
, which had contributed 31 points (13g/18a) over the last seven games heading into tonight’s contest, again set the tone for the Avalanche.
The trio combined on the Avalanche’s first goal, as Smyth carried the puck along the left boards and centered a pass into the low slot that Stastny buried for his team-leading 14th goal of the season. Hejduk was credited with the second assist on the play, which came at the 4:06 mark of the second period.
Marek Svatos scored the eventual game-winning goal at the 14:50 mark of the second period on a strong individual effort. After Smyth dumped the puck deep into Nashville’s zone, Svatos beat a Predator defenseman to the puck, skated to the left faceoff circle and put a shot on goal. Nashville netminder Chris Mason was able to get in front of the initial attempt, but couldn’t stop Svatos when he corralled his own rebound and put a shot into the back of the net.
Martin Gelinas cut Colorado’s lead in half only 53 seconds later from just outside the crease to give Nashville its only goal of the evening.
Peter Budaj was solid in net for the second straight contest, stopping 31-of-32 shots to move his record to 11-6-0 this season. The netminder won his second game in three nights against the Predators, having allowed just two goals total in the two games, stopping 61-of-63 shots.
“Our ‘D’ is doing a great job, our forwards are doing a great job coming back and back-checking,” said Budaj. “It makes my job much easier than before. It’s a credit to the whole team.”Notes:
The Avs improved to 13-3-0 at Pepsi Center this season… Only the Red Wings (14-2-1, 29 points) have more wins or points on home ice.…The Avalanche has won four of five overall and three straight at home…Avalanche defensemen have contributed 30 points (6g/24a) over the past 13 games…Stastny has notched 29 points (11g/18a) in 16 home games.