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Avalanche top Predators for second in row under Roy

by Rick Sadowski /

DENVER -- It wasn't easy, but the Colorado Avalanche remained unbeaten for new coach Patrick Roy, who was especially pleased to learn that his team can win a grind-it-out type game.

The Avalanche needed an empty-netter from PA Parenteau, his second goal of the game, with 1:12 remaining to secure a 3-1 win against the Nashville Predators on Friday night at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche are 2-0-0 to begin a season for the first time since 2009-10 and for the third time since they moved to Denver in 1995.

"Even in my nine years [playing] here, for some reason it was always a low-scoring game against these guys," Roy said. "They play well defensively, their goalie [Pekka Rinne] played real well and made some great saves and kept them in the game. But it was a great effort by our players."

The Avalanche took a 2-0 lead on goals by Parenteau and Patrick Bordeleau, but the Predators cut the margin in half on a goal by Paul Gaustad at 14:10 of the second period just as a slashing penalty to Colorado's Steve Downie expired.

Parenteau opened the scoring at 18:50 of the first period. Jamie McGinn, who scored two goals in a 6-1 win Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks, was being covered by Predators defenseman Seth Jones but managed to get off a good shot that Rinne stopped. Parenteau was near the right post when he poked in the rebound with linemate Nathan MacKinnon in front as Rinne was falling to the ice in a collision with teammate Mattias Ekholm.

"That was a great play by Jamie, keeping it in and shooting it at the net," Parenteau said. "It was a strong effort and I was just there to get the rebound and it was a big goal for our team. It is always a grind against Nashville. They are really stingy defensively, they are well coached and it's always a grind but we responded pretty well tonight I thought."

The McGinn-MacKinnon-Parenteau unit has combined for three goals and five assists in the first two games.

"We're trying our best," Parenteau said. "MacKinnon has a lot of speed, a lot of talent. Jamie does his thing, he has a good shot and I try to do my thing. It's been working so far and hopefully we have more coming."

The Avalanche were able to rush the puck up ice with ease after Gaustad and teammate Matt Hendricks collided deep in the offensive end.

Colorado's fourth line of Cody McLeod, Marc-Andre Cliche and Bordeleau combined for the second goal at 7:54 of the second period.

McLeod worked along the boards behind the net to gain possession and pass to Cliche near the right-wing boards. Cliche fed Nate Guenin at the right point for a shot that 6-foot-6 Bordeleau deflected behind Rinne for his third goal in 48 career NHL games.

"The fourth line scored a big goal," Roy said. "Everybody can bring something to this team. They are playing hard, they're physical, they finish their checks. This is a great fourth line for us. I'm almost sad to call them the fourth line. They're playing hard for us. Everybody has a role here, everybody is important to us."

Bordeleau said he and McLeod spend considerable time on tip drills during morning skates.

"We work at it, me and Cody," he said. "We take at least 10 pucks each, and that's what happened. We had a good shift down low and we kept the puck in by working hard and we made some good plays. It was just a good tip. The fourth line, that's our role, to give a rest to the top three lines and get the momentum going on our side. We did our job, and it's a bonus when we score."

The Avalanche weren't able to convert after going on a power play a little less two minutes later when Predators captain Shea Weber was assessed a double minor for roughing. Weber hit Matt Duchene before Downie checked Roman Josi with a high hit in the corner. Gabriel Bourque and Weber responded by going after Downie.

Josi left with an upper-body injury and didn't return.

"If you watch the film, it's pretty self-explanatory and the League will handle it correctly," Predators coach Barry Trotz said of Downie's hit. "There will be something to come out of it, I think. We're trying to get all of that out of the game, launching yourself, especially the head shots."

Roy said he thought Downie's hit was clean.

"That was a great hit," he said. "I need to look at it, but I thought it was a fair check. What I like about Steve is he's a great leader and he's playing hard. Everyone is going after him and he stayed composed and played hard and stayed focused. A lot of times I'm not sure if he is, but he said, 'Patty, I'm under control.' I said, 'OK let's keep going then."

Gaustad scored while driving down the slot. Mike Fisher passed the puck to him for a shot that sailed past Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov's glove.

Varlamov has stopped 61 of 63 shots in the first two games.

Rinne turned aside 33 of 35 shots in a bounceback effort after a poor performance Thursday when he gave up three first-period goals on six shots and was pulled in the Predators' 4-2 loss at the St. Louis Blues. He began Friday with an 11-3-1 career record against the Avalanche with a 2.03 goals-against average and .920 save percentage.

"You play to win the game, so it's too bad we couldn't get the result," Rinne said. "A little bit of disappointment. Personally I felt good and I'm happy to be back out there and everything's feeling good. It's good to test your body and test your head.

"It's not fun losing games. It's not the effort. I think we battled hard, we had a lot of penalty kills and the penalty kill did a good job. It's the little things, like the first goal in the first period, a little letdown and, boom, it's in the net. Every single minute matters."

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