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McLeod does it again for Avs

by Brian Compton
Cody McLeod isn't known for his offensive prowess, but it was on full display on Monday night.
The gritty forward notched his second two-goal game in under a month, leading the Colorado Avalanche to a 5-1 win against the Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center.
McLeod -- who had four goals in 49 games last season -- also scored a pair of goals in Colorado's 6-1 win against Los Angeles on Dec. 9. On Monday, both of his tallies came in the first 11:30 of the game.
''Cody had a great start to the game,'' Colorado coach Tony Granato said. ''He works so hard, and it's nice to see him get some chances and be rewarded for his hard work.''
McLeod's first goal of the night came at 8:34 of the first period, when Marek Svatos sent the puck across the goal mouth to McLeod for an easy tap-in. He made it 2-0 less than three minutes later, as he was able to redirect Brett Clark's blast from the point past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne for his seventh goal of the season.
''On the first one I got a great pass and somehow I got the puck past the goalie,'' McLeod said after Colorado's third straight win. ''I hit a stick on the second and I just hope they don't review it.''
The onslaught continued early in the second period, as Chris Stewart made it a three-goal game at 4:42. With the teams at even strength, Stewart took a pass from Jordan Leopold and fired a wrist shot from the right circle past Rinne for his third goal of the season.
David Jones increased the Avs' lead to 4-0 less than two minutes later, when he took a return pass from Wojtek Wolski and slammed it home much to the delight of the home crowd.
"We were focusing on getting the puck in deep tonight and we did a good job of doing that," McLeod said. "We've lost two key players in Joe (Sakic) and Paul (Stastny), but we got others contributing."
Jason Arnott finally got the Preds on the board at 9:17 of the second period. After Darcy Tucker was sent off for four minutes, Arnott ripped a shot that went off an Avs' skate before going past goalie Peter Budaj (25 saves) to make it 4-1. It was Arnott's 14th goal of the season.
''We got off to a slow start and they could have scored a couple of more goals in the period,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ''We had our chances, missing an empty net or two in the second period when we could have scored five or six goals.''
John-Michael Liles sealed the victory just 48 seconds into the third period, when he finished off a 2-on-0 breakaway with Ryan Smyth. It was his fifth goal of the season.
"It definitely wasn't one of our prettier wins, but sometimes you're fortunate and you get those bounces," said Liles, who was a plus-3. "I think that was definitely the case tonight."
Rinne agreed.
''They got a little help from the hockey stars,'' Rinne said. ''They got some lucky bounces, but that's life. I am not happy with the result. It's just one of those nights when they seem to have scored on every chance they had."    
The Avs will look for more fortunate bounces and their fourth consecutive win on Wednesday night, when they'll visit the Phoenix Coyotes.
"I thought everybody played well tonight," McLeod said. "We just wanted to come out here and get the two points, and we did that."

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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