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game recap

Smith propels Predators past Avalanche

Forward gets goal, assist in Nashville win

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Craig Smith had a goal and an assist, and Mattias Ekholm scored his third goal in three games for the Nashville Predators in a 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

Pekka Rinne made 29 saves for the Predators (11-6-2), who have won six of their past seven games and eight straight against the Avalanche.

 

[WATCH: All Avalanche vs. Predators highlights]

 

"We tried to stay in our own game and get the pucks deep and keep it simple," Rinne said. "Things like that. I think that was the game plan (in a 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday), it just didn't happen. Obviously we were upset about that game and made sure tonight we were ready to go when it came to the third period."

Andrei Mironov and J.T. Compher scored in the third period for Colorado (9-8-1), which is 1-3-1 in its past five games.

"I felt really good coming into this game because I think it was a real good challenge for us," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "I liked our guys' pregame skate this morning, just sort of our mindset coming into this one. I liked the way we stuck with it a little bit too, but special teams, the power play, frustrated some of our top guys. The turning point for us is we probably make a mistake, or we do make a mistake, on the penalty kill at the end of the first period and they get that one."

Video: COL@NSH: Smith puts in rebound for a power-play goal

Smith gave the Predators a 1-0 lead on the power play with 34.7 seconds remaining in the first period. P.K. Subban took the initial shot from the point, and Smith beat Semyon Varlamov for his seventh goal.

"I think you can see in [Smith's] body language and just his overall presence there, he feels a lot calmer and a lot more relaxed when he's got a few more goals under his belt already," Ekholm said. "He's a tremendous player, the way he skates out there and the way he uses his speed, turning defensemen. He's been a big part of our success this year."

Colton Sissons gave the Predators a 2-0 lead at 9:11 of the second period. Nick Bonino intercepted the puck in the offensive zone and passed it to Roman Josi, who found Sissons for the backdoor tap-in.

Anthony Bitetto made it 3-0 at 10:38 of the second period on a slap shot from the top of the left circle.

Ekholm gave the Predators a 4-0 lead at 7:53 of the second period on a slap shot from the point.

"I play with good players on the power play, that's the first (thing)," Ekholm said. "And then I get good opportunities to shoot the puck. I'm trying to shoot it as much as I can, and some of them have found the net lately. It's obviously fun to contribute. It's obviously fun to score goals. If I can chip in like this, it'll be awesome."

Viktor Arvidsson gave the Predators a 5-0 lead at 11:51 of the third period on a redirection on a shot from Subban. It was his eighth goal.

Mironov ended Rinne's shutout bid at 15:23 of the third period to make it 5-1.

Compher scored his second of the season at 18:15 of the third.

Varlamov made 19 saves.

Video: COL@NSH: Ekholm blasts home a PPG off the post

 

Goal of the game

Bitetto's goal at 10:38 of the second period.

Video: COL@NSH: Bitetto blasts a slap shot past Varlamov

 
Save of the game

Rinne's pad save on Gabriel Landeskog at 19:57 of the second period to keep the score 3-0.

Video: COL@NSH: Rinne slides across to make a great pad save

 

Highlight of the game

Sissons' goal at 9:11 of the second period.

Video: COL@NSH: Sissons redirects home Josi's beautiful pass

 

They said it

"The one thing we didn't do is we didn't get in front of Rinne for the screens, so he was seeing them. We had a couple dangerous chances. [Landeskog] put one off his shoulder from the middle of the ice. He made some nice saves, and then the entries, we were a little bit stubborn on our breakouts and entries in that five-minute power play, and we just didn't execute." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar

 

"We've got to be smarter. Two penalties were too many men, and that can't happen. It's sloppy, and we've got to clean it up. Sticks have got to stay on the ice and stop slashing and those things. We've got to stay out of the box. We can't win games with people in there." -- Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson

 

Video: COL@NSH: Arvidsson tips home Subban's hard slap shot

 

Need to know

Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie returned after missing one game because of an upper-body injury. … Predators forward Austin Watson was given a major boarding penalty and a game misconduct in the first period for his hit on Dominic Toninato.

 

What's next

Avalanche: At the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-D, NHL.TV)

Predators: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Monday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-TN, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Special teams lifts Predators past Avalanche, 5-2

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