Colin Wilson made his return to the Music City, but it wasn't the homecoming he and the Colorado Avalanche was looking for.
The Avalanche dropped its second game in a row on Tuesday night as it lost 4-1 to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
"It's a learning curve for our team. I still think we can dig in a little bit more as a group," said head coach Jared Bednar. "We're willing to come to work, but there is still a level of compete that I think we need in some of these games. We got out-battled on a lot of pucks in the second half of the game."
For Wilson, it was his first contest back in the city he called home for eight years. He admitted before puck drop that it was a bit strange getting ready in the visiting locker room and putting on a white and burgundy sweater instead of a gold and blue one.
"It feels a little bit different," Wilson said. "It feels fun, looking across and seeing a few buddies, but we won't be friends tonight. Cool to be back in the building."
Wilson was selected by the Predators with the seventh overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and went on to appear in 502 career games, a mark that ranks sixth all-time in franchise history. He registered 95 goals and 142 assists in those contests and 24 more points (13 goals and 11 assists) in 47 career playoff games.
Born in Greenwich, Connecticut, but raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wilson played in 14 postseason games and had four points (two goals and two assists) in the Preds' run to the Stanley Cup Final last year.
Colorado acquired the power forward in a trade on July 1, and he has been a staple in the Avalanche's bottom six in the first seven contests of the season. Wilson registered his first point with the club on Saturday when he had an assist at the Dallas Stars.
"I think I could pick it up. I had a little bit of an injury in training camp. I think my game is getting there," Wilson said before Tuesday's contest. "I think with my assist last time, I'm starting to see the game a little better."
The 27-year-old began the outing in Nashville on a line with J.T. Compher and Gabriel Landeskog but played with a few different players in the third period when the Avs were trying to comeback from a two-goal (and then three-goal) deficit.
"We're at the point of the game, where we felt stale to me," Bednar said of mixing up his forward combinations late in the contest. "We had some guys that I liked and a handful of other guys that I didn't. Just searching to try and get a couple of those guys together and create an opportunity or two. And trying to reward some of the guys I felt were working hard."
Colorado dropped both games of its two-game Central Division road trip and now heads home to play two more divisional opponents. The Avs host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday and then face the Stars next Tuesday.
"We just have to refocus our group here and get ready to go in two days from now against St. Louis, another tough Central Division team," Bednar said. "And they don't get any easier. Then we get Dallas coming back again, so we go to keep grinding. We got to keep finding a way to improve our group every day."
The Avalanche and Predators will play a total of four times this season, with Wilson and the Avs playing their next (and last) game in Nashville on Nov. 18. Colorado hosts the Preds at Pepsi Center in the final two meetings in March.
GOOD AND BAD ON THE POWER PLAY
Nathan MacKinnon scored on the power play in the second period to give the Avs a 1-0 lead, but it was another tough night with the extra player on the ice as Colorado went 1-for-6 with the advantage.
MacKinnon's marker at 4:09 of the frame came after his pass redirected off the skate of Roman Josi in the slot and past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.
The Avs had three more man-advantage chances in the middle frame but couldn't find twine again. Colorado finished with six total shots on its power plays.
"Up until this point, we haven't had the attack mentality enough," said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog on the club's power play. "We just haven't brought enough pucks to the net or shot enough pucks. Tonight, obviously, we get a little bit of a bounce on the one we do get, but other than that we just weren't getting set up tonight. We just couldn't find a way to get in with control and set it up. That is a matter of outworking the PK units. We got to get better at that, and I'm sure we're going to watch the video tomorrow morning."
Colorado is now 5-for-35 this season on the power play.
JOST, LINDHOLM RETURN TO THE LINEUP
Forward Tyson Jost was back in the Avalanche's lineup after missing two games with a bone bruise on his knee.
The injury could have been a lot worse as Jost was chasing the puck into the corner in last Wednesday's home opener against the Boston Bruins when he was cross checked from behind, lost an edge and slid feet first into the boards. He needed assistance off the ice but returned to the game and scored a late empty-net goal.
"Feels great. A lot of excitement to get back into some game action and get back in the locker room with the guys," said Jost, who was held out for the ensuing two contests to help recover fully. "I'm excited to be back. Excited that it wasn't anything serious."
Jost began Tuesday's contest by centering Colorado's fourth line with Carl Soderberg and Blake Comeau.
Defenseman Anton Lindholm also returned to game action after being a healthy scratch for the last three outings. He replaced the injured Patrik Nemeth on a defensive pairing with Tyson Barrie.
Nemeth hurt his shoulder in Saturday's game at the Dallas Stars and returned to Denver for evaluation.