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game recap

Craig Smith leads Predators past Avalanche

Nashville forward scores two goals to help end three-game losing streak

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- Craig Smith scored two goals and Filip Forsberg and James Neal each had two assists to help the Nashville Predators to a 5-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

Pekka Rinne made 28 saves for the Predators (3-5-1), who ended a three-game losing streak (0-2-1) and have gone 1-2-1 in the first four games of a five-game road trip that ends against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.

"It was good. Things are turning a little bit, just offensively," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "We seem to be staying in a little bit longer, getting more looks, more attempts. With that is going to come more results. It's nice to get those guys going. Sometimes seeing the points on the board builds confidence."

Jarome Iginla scored and Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves for the Avalanche (4-4-0), who have lost two consecutive home games and four of their past six overall.

"It's disappointing because it was a chance for us to go a couple games above .500, and now we're just spinning in the mud again," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "It's not at all how we want to play."

Video: NSH@COL: Smith tips in opening goal for quick lead

Smith and Roman Josi scored 1:09 apart in the third period to give Nashville a 5-1 lead. Smith raced down the left wing to score his second of the game and fourth of the season at 13:18 after Josi scored past a sprawled Varlamov at 12:09.

Ryan Johansen scored his first of the season on a power play at 11:47 of the second period to give the Predators a 3-1 lead. Forsberg took a shot from the right circle that clipped Neal's stick at the left side of the crease. The puck went off Mike Fisher's stick and Johansen flipped it inside the left post.

"That was really nice, actually," Johansen said. "It always feels good to put pucks in the back of the net. That was nice we had five guys contributing tonight. It was a great all-around team effort. We did a lot of good things."

The Predators sandwiched goals by Smith and Matt Irwin around one by Iginla at 5:35 of the first period to take a 2-1 lead.

Smith gave the Predators a 1-0 lead 1:33 into the game. Mike Ribeiro took a shot from above the right circle and Smith deflected it past Varlamov. It was the second time in nine games the Predators scored first. Irwin broke a 1-1 tie at 17:47 with a shot from the left circle.

"Sixty minutes of pretty much the same hockey, and that's been our struggle in the last few games," Forsberg said. "We've been playing good for certain amounts in the games but not 60 minutes, and that was what changed for tonight."

Video: NSH@COL: Smith pots his second with top-shelf wrister


Goal of the game

Irwin's first of the season proved to be the game-winner. Forsberg won a faceoff in the right circle and slid the puck back to Neal. He passed across to Irwin, who beat Varlamov to the far side.

Video: NSH@COL: Irwin scores his first goal as a Predator


Save of the game

The Predators had a 3-1 lead when Rinne made a save with his arm against Joe Colborne skating down the left wing at 8:55 of the third period while the Avalanche were killing a boarding penalty against Blake Comeau. Josi scored 3:14 later to make it 4-1.


Highlight of the game

Nashville killed all four Colorado power plays after allowing five goals in nine shorthanded situations in the previous nine games.


Unsung moment of the game

Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis slid at the edge of the crease to prevent Colorado's Andreas Martinsen from scoring at 10:30 of the third period during a scramble in front. "It's not the first time he's done that," Laviolette said. "He's a smart player, he knows where to be. He's prevented something from going into the net before. It was a big play at the time."

Video: NSH@COL: Rinne, Ellis team up to deny a goal


They said it

"We gave them way too many scoring chances. It seemed like every time they got in the neutral zone, there was an odd-man rush and a scoring chance. We're supposed to be a good team all over the ice in all three zones, and tonight we weren't. Against any team in this League, you're going to get punished." -- Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog


"It was nice to see a few goals go in. These are huge points for us. On the road trip we still have a chance to go .500 here. We need to bury our chances, and we did." -- Predators goalie Pekka Rinne


Video: NSH@COL: Johansen finds rebound, nets sharp-angle PPG


Need to know

Iginla's goal gave him 1,275 points, moving him past Al MacInnis into sole possession of 35th place on the NHL's all-time list. He had gone five games without a point ... Fisher's second-period assist was his 200th point with Nashville. He didn't play in the third period because of an upper-body injury. ... The Predators went 1-for-5 on power plays after going a combined 1-for-9 in the previous three games.


What's next

Predators: At the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; FS-A, FS-TN, NHL.TV)

Avalanche: At the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, ALT, NHL.TV)


Video: Smith pots a pair as Preds cruise past Avs, 5-1

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