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5 Keys: Predators at Avalanche, Game 3

Nashville looks to continue strong play on road; Colorado seeks improved play from Bernier

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

PREDATORS AT AVALANCHE

10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS, ALT, FS-TN

Nashville leads best-of-7 series 2-0

 

DENVER-- The Nashville Predators will try to take a 3-0 lead when they play the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference First Round at Pepsi Center on Monday.

Colorado has lost three consecutive playoff series after losing the first two games and hasn't won a series since 2008 when it defeated the Minnesota Wild in six games in the first round.

The Predators outscored the Avalanche 10-6 in the first two games at Bridgestone Arena, winning 5-2 in Game 1 and 5-4 in Game 2. 

Here are 5 keys for Game 3:

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

 

1. Girard won't play

Avalanche rookie defenseman Samuel Girard will miss his second consecutive game because of an upper-body injury. He played 22:07 in Game 1 and quarterbacked the second power-play unit. Duncan Siemens will replace him again after playing 10:09 in Game 2. 

Video: CGY@COL: Siemens pots first NHL goal into empty net

"Day to day, hopefully he's back for Game 4," coach Jared Bednar said of Girard. "We miss him a little bit from a puck-moving standpoint, certainly power play. I mean, he's grown into a top defender for us. He plays a lot of minutes, especially down the stretch. I felt like his game is peaking, he's gotten better as the year's gone on. He's a big loss for us."

 

2. Mile-high altitude

The Avalanche are playing their first home Stanley Cup Playoff game since 2014 when they lost Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round to Minnesota, 5-4 in overtime.

They went 28-11-2 at Pepsi Center to match the Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques record for home wins set in 2000-01 when Colorado won the Stanley Cup, and will try to take advantage of Denver's thin air, which can tax visiting teams. However, the Predators were 25-9-7 on the road this season, best in the NHL.

"We feel good (at home), we have lots of confidence here," Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon said. "Guys have played really well here. The building's been a lot of fun and obviously the next two games will be awesome. We're excited for these next two." 

Said Predators forward Colton Sissons: "For me personally, I'm second-winded a little bit more on the bench, especially early in games. You get adjusted to [the altitude] pretty quick. Having a pregame skate this morning also helps."

 

3. Rinne vs. Bernier

Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne has outplayed Jonathan Bernier of Colorado through two games.

Rinne doesn't have great numbers (3.00 goals-against average, .895 save percentage), but made big saves at critical times in each game.

Video: COL@NSH, Gm2: Rinne stretches pad for strong save

Bernier, playing because started Semyon Varlamov is out with a knee injury, has a 4.07 goals-against average and .871 save percentage.

"He can be better, for sure," Bednar said. "I think if you look at the importance of goaltending this time of the year 'good' is usually not good enough. I think their guy made some saves at some key times, made some big saves that kind of let them keep the lead or have the chance to fight back in both of those games."

 

4. Nashville dominance

Including the two playoff games, the Predators have outscored the Avalanche 52-28 during a 12-game winning streak against them. They outscored Colorado 17-8 in four games during the regular season and have won five straight games at Pepsi Center. The Avalanche last defeated the Predators 4-3 in Nashville on March 28, 2016.

"I don't remember all of the games, but I know they're always tight games here," Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. "I know one was a one-goal game and one was in overtime, tight games and they could have gone either way. We've been playing well and we know we have to (continue that) here."

 

5. Quick start

The Predators have had to play catch-up after falling behind 1-0 in the first period in each game. 

"We always want to get on the board first," Predators forward Filip Forsberg said. "Unfortunately, we haven't, but also at the same time we've come back hard. They've been coming out ready to play and we're not expecting anything else tonight."

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala -- Kyle Turris -- Craig Smith

Colton Sissons -- Nick Bonino -- Austin Watson

Miikka Salomaki -- Mike Fisher -- Ryan Hartman

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin -- Matt Irwin

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Scott Hartnell, Anders Lindback, Eeli Tolvanen

Injured: Calle Jarnkrok (upper body), Yannick Weber (upper body)

 

Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Tyson Jost -- Alexander Kerfoot -- Sven Andrighetto

Matt Nieto -- Carl Soderberg -- Blake Comeau

Colin Wilson -- J.T. Compher -- Gabriel Bourque

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyson Barrie

Patrik Nemeth - Mark Barberio

Duncan Siemens -- David Warsofsky

Jonathan Bernier

Andrew Hammond

Scratched: Mark Alt, Vladislav Kamenev, Anton Lindholm, Dominic Toninato, Nail Yakupov

Injured: Samuel Girard (upper body), Erik Johnson (knee), Semyon Varlamov (knee)

 

Status report

Jarnkrok and Weber took part in the morning skate … The Predators recalled Lindback from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.

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