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Martinsen's goal helps Avalanche edge Predators

by Robby Stanley

NASHVILLE -- Andreas Martinsen's goal at 9:37 of the third period helped the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

With the teams at even strength, the puck popped up in the air after a shot by Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg and Martinsen was able to swat it past Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne for his second goal of the season.

"It was a dirty one, an ugly goal, but I think our line, we were going the whole night," Martinsen said. "We were working them down low and being physical and taking pucks to the net. In the end you get rewarded with a little ugly one, so that was nice for all three of us."

Francois Beauchemin and Nick Holden scored and Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves for Colorado (13-16-1).

"[Varlamov] was really good," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "He made some really good saves, especially in those [penalty kills] as well, but overall, yes he was very solid. I like to say that our guys played well in front of him. Our [defensemen] were sharp with the breakout. I thought we did a good job."

Miikka Salomaki and Craig Smith had goals for Nashville (15-10-5). Rinne made 22 saves.

"Colorado came in here in the first period with a pretty pointed game," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "It was direct. It was physical. It was fast. We were catching them in the first period and we need to be better. I'm not going to make any excuses. We need to be ready for that at the start of the game."

Smith tied the game 58 seconds into the third period on a one-timer from the point. He took a pass from defenseman Ryan Ellis and his shot beat Varlamov for his seventh goal.

Beauchemin gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 8:37 of the first period on the power play. The Predators had a miscommunication and weren't able to clear the puck out of the zone. Beauchemin took a pass from forward Nathan MacKinnon and shot it past Rinne for his third goal.

"Yeah, good shot, but good screen in front by [Avalanche forward Matt Duchene]," Beauchemin said. "[Rinne] didn't see it. That's all we needed on the power play. Just keep things simple, putting pucks on net with traffic in front. Tonight was a good example of how we have to score goals."

Holden doubled the Avalanche's lead at 14:38 of the first period just as another power-play opportunity expired. Holden drove to the net, received a pass from forward Alex Tanguay and one-timed a shot past Rinne for his second goal.

Nashville went 0-for-5 on the power play. Colorado was able to get in the shooting lanes and block shots and got some help from the goal posts.

"We took a lot of penalties," Duchene said. "Too many, I think. We took a lot more than we would've liked to, but our [penalty kill] was there when we needed it tonight. [Varlamov] was outstanding, and we got a couple of good bounces off of some goal posts. The guys on the [penalty kill] did a [heck] of a job tonight."

The Avalanche were outshot 10-1 in the second period but were able to kill three penalties to keep the Predators from capitalizing on their momentum.

"I think that was the big thing for us today," Martinsen said. "They have a really good power play so those guys out there did a great job blocking shots and getting in the lanes. [Varlamov] too had a couple of really big saves there. That's a big part of the win today."

Salomaki scored to make it 2-1 with 7.7 seconds remaining in the first period. Ellis took the original shot from the point, and Salomaki redirected the puck past Varlamov for his third goal.

Colorado will travel to play the St. Louis Blues on Sunday in the second game of a three-game road trip.

"We've got a lot of character on that team," Beauchemin said. "We lost some big games early, but we know the situation we're in and who we're playing against in the next few games. Those are games we'll have to win if we want to keep getting in the race."

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog missed his second consecutive game because of a back injury. He could return on Sunday.

Nashville will host the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

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