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Predators host Avalanche with eyes on playoff berth

Regulation win secures postseason for Nashville; Colorado missing Duchene, MacKinnon

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

AVALANCHE (38-33-4) at PREDATORS (39-23-13)

TV: 8 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-TN, NHL.TV

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators can clinch a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth with a regulation win against the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena on Monday. 

The Predators have 91 points and hold the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. They are 11 points ahead of the Avalanche, who are five points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card. The Predators can make it impossible for the Avalanche to catch them with a regulation win Monday.

"Obviously a few months ago, it was an unsure position," Predators forward Mike Ribeiro said. "Now we have a chance to put ourselves in the playoffs. Obviously Colorado is a pretty good team and is still trying to chase us. It'd be a great feeling in this room if we can clinch tonight." 

Nashville defenseman Roman Josi has 56 points, which is tied for the most points in a season by a defenseman in team history. Defenseman Shea Weber had 56 points in 2013-14. 

Colorado will be without forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene against Nashville on Monday and the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Duchene has missed four games, and MacKinnon three, with knee injuries. 

Duchene skated Sunday but MacKinnon hasn't yet, Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. 

The Avalanche lost 4-0 to the Wild at Pepsi Center on Saturday. The players still believe they have what it takes to close the gap and make a push for the playoffs.

"We're still in it," Avalanche forward Shawn Matthias said. "We're going to keep battling right to the end. We're going to be positive, stick with our process and just keep battling. You never know what's going to happen in this League. Crazier things have happened so we're going to keep playing hard, take it one game at a time and be ready to compete when the puck drops tonight." 

Here are the projected lineups:


Shawn Matthias - Carl Soderberg - Gabriel Landeskog  

Mikkel Boedker - Mikhail Grigorenko - Blake Comeau

Andreas Martinsen - John Mitchell - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod -- Andrew Agozzino - Jack Skille

Chris Bigras - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Francois Beauchemin - Nikita Zadorov

Semyon Varlamov  

Calvin Pickard  

Scratched: Zach Redmond, Andrew Bodnarchuk

Injured: Matt Duchene (knee), Nathan MacKinnon (knee), Eric Gelinas (elbow), Jesse Winchester (concussion), Brad Stuart (back)


Calle Jarnkrok - Ryan Johansen - James Neal

Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith

Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Arvidsson

Eric Nystrom - Colton Sissons - Miikka Salomaki  

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Petter Granberg

Barret Jackman - Ryan Ellis  

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Austin Watson

Injured: Paul Gaustad (upper body), Anthony Bitetto (lower body), Gabriel Bourque (upper body)

Status report: Agozzino and Zadorov were recalled form San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Sunday. … Varlamov will start for the Avalanche. … Rinne was the first goaltender off of the ice for the Predators and is expected to start. 

Who's hot: Barrie has two goals in his past four games and leads Colorado defensemen with 47 points. … Neal has seven goals and three assists in his past six games. 

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