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game recap

Avalanche hang on for win against Predators

Nashville can't finish rally, fails in bid to clinch playoff spot

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Semyon Varlamov made 14 of his 32 saves in the third period, and the Colorado Avalanche hung on for a 4-3 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Monday.

Shawn Matthias scored to put Colorado ahead 4-1 with 7:47 remaining. He took a pass from Mikkel Boedker and beat Predators goaltender Carter Hutton on a breakaway for his 10th goal.

"The guys were competing tonight," Matthias said. "We wanted it. We're still in this race, we believe in each other. It's a big team win."

The Avalanche (39-33-4) are three points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. They lost 4-0 to the Wild at home Saturday.

Video: COL@NSH: Soderberg finds Landeskog who jams home puck

"It was a chance for us to play a strong game and prove that we were not going to give up, and that's what I said to these guys before the game," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "All year, we never give up. I thought we were always resilient after losses and we've been playing well on the road. I thought our guys responded really well."

The Predators (39-24-13), who would have clinched a playoff berth with a regulation win, scored two goals in 24 seconds to cut the Avalanche lead to 4-3.  

Colton Sissons redirected forward Miikka Salomaki's shot past Varlamov at 14:58, and Roman Josi scored to make it 4-3 at 15:22 on a shot from the point.

Josi's goal gave him 57 points this season, the most by a defenseman in Predators history.

Video: COL@NSH: Smith nets Forsberg's feed for goal

"Right now, you're just mad about losing the game," Josi said. "Obviously, you want to win those games. Like I said, it's just frustrating that we lost."

Colorado jumped out to a 3-0 lead at 11:40 of the first period.

Blake Comeau opened the scoring at 6:36 on a wrist shot from the slot. Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm made an errant pass that Comeau intercepted and shot past Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne for his 12th goal.

"On the first goal, it was just [Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog] and [Colorado forward Carl Soderberg] did some really good forechecking, and I think Ekholm just was forced to make a pass in the middle that he didn't want to," Comeau said. "I was in the right spot at the right time."

Video: COL@NSH: Skille jams home rebound off McLeod's shot

Landeskog put the Avalanche ahead 2-0 at 10:10. Soderberg passed from behind the Predators net, and Landeskog was able to win a battle for the puck against defenseman Shea Weber and put the puck past Rinne for his 19th goal.

Jack Skille gave the Avalanche a 3-0 lead at 11:40 on a rebound. Cody McLeod took the initial shot, and Skille got to the rebound and put it past Rinne for his eighth goal.  

"We're at a point where it's just find a way to win the game and get two points," Comeau said. "I know it sounds cliche, but we've been in those games where we've been on the wrong end, so it was nice to be able to just buckle down and win by a goal. No matter how ugly it got at the end, we got it done."

Video: COL@NSH: Josi snipes one past Varlamov to cut deficit

The Predators replaced Rinne with Hutton after Skille's goal. Rinne made seven saves on 10 shots; Hutton stopped 16 of 17 shots.

Nashville forward Craig Smith scored on a rush to make it 3-1 with 2:52 left in the first. He took a pass from Filip Forsberg and shot it past Varlamov for his 20th goal.

"We knew they were going to play hard," Josi said. "I think it was one of those games for them that was kind of a last chance, so we knew they were going to come out hard. We didn't play our best in the first. We didn't match their effort, so that's why we were down three goals."

Video: Avalanche gain ground in playoff race with 4-3 win

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