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Predators clinch playoff berth with win against Avalanche

Extend point streak to 14, become first team to qualify for postseason

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- The Nashville Predators became the first team to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth with a 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Friday.

 

[WATCH: All Predators vs. Avalanche highlights]

 

Colton Sissons and Filip Forsberg each scored two goals, and Juuse Saros made 33 saves for the Predators, who won their third straight game and matched their record with their 14th consecutive game with at least a point (13-0-1).

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Preds first to clinch playoff berth

Nashville (47-14-10) leads the Winnipeg Jets by 10 points for first place in the Central Division and is nine points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights for the best record in the Western Conference.

"It's good, the guys worked really hard," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Everything we did -- the staff, the other coaches -- certainly the players worked extremely hard to this point. It's about getting in, about getting rounds at home ice. All of that helps you try to be successful when you get there.

"You take a little pride in that. The guys have battled hard all year to fight for the points, for whatever they might be, different reasons on different nights. The guys knew with a win tonight we would clinch, and I think they fought hard for it."

Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon scored, and Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves for Colorado, which had won three games in a row and was 6-0-3 in the previous nine.

Video: NSH@COL: Landeskog pots loose puck in front

MacKinnon has 11 goals and 10 assists during an 11-game point streak.

The Avalanche (38-25-8) hold the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Their 84 points are tied with the Dallas Stars, but they have played one fewer game and have more regulation and overtime wins (37-34). Colorado and Dallas are three points behind the Minnesota Wild for third place in the Central Division.

"Nashville's a really good team, tough to play against, but I think we played strong, had a really good game," Varlamov said. "We just didn't score. We had a couple good chances at the end. We deserved at least one point."

Forsberg scored an empty-net goal with 1:09 left in the third period to make it 4-2.

Sissons gave the Predators a 3-2 lead at 13:39 of the second period with his second goal of the game. Ryan Hartman passed to Sissons for a one-timer from the right face-off circle.

"I've always prided myself on showing up when it matters most and being counted on as a reliable teammate," Sissons said. "The bigger the stakes, you've got to raise your level. I was able to prove that last year in the playoffs a little bit and I've continued to build on that this season."

The Predators tied the game 2-2 on Forsberg's goal at 6:28 of the second after Landeskog gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead at 3:28.

The Avalanche tied it 1-1 on a goal by MacKinnon with 59 seconds left in the first period. MacKinnon was above the circles for a one-timer off a pass from Tyson Barrie.

The Predators took a 1-0 lead at 17:26 of the first period when Sissons beat Varlamov to the short side with a shot from low in the left circle.

"We're a pretty deep team, lots of players coming in and out of the lineup making contributions, and the goaltending's been unbelievable," Forsberg said. "The defense has been good and guys put pucks in the back of the net."

 

Goal of the game

Sissons' goal at 13:39 of the second period.

Video: NSH@COL: Sissons blasts one-timer for his second

 

Save of the game

Saros stopping MacKinnon at 16:29 of the third period.

Video: NSH@COL: Saros turns away MacKinnon's wrister

 

Highlight of the game

MacKinnon's goal at 19:01 of the first period.

Video: NSH@COL: MacKinnon blasts one-timer off post and in

 

They said it

"I really liked our game tonight. We played a fast team that was desperate and competitive and really good at home, on a bit of a roll themselves. To have a team like Colorado playing as well as they are, I thought our guys responded real well to the situation." -- Predators coach Peter Laviolette

 

"Every team has that goal at the start of the year, to make the playoffs. Obviously, the higher you finish, the better. In the end, all that matters is making it in, and we're happy we did that." -- Predators forward Filip Forsberg

 

"We did make a handful of mistakes. It's a good team, a competitive team, a hardworking team that we played tonight. They find a way to make you pay for those mistakes. You have to be happy with our effort, for sure. There are some things we can do better, but the guys laid it on the line." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar

 

Need to know

The Predators also had a 14-game point streak (9-0-5) from Feb. 12-March 9, 2016. ... Nashville has won 10 straight games against the Avalanche, six in a row in Denver. ... The Predators set their record by getting at least a point in a 14th straight road game (11-0-3). … Barrie has four goals and eight assists in a nine-game point streak. ... Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen has three goals and eight assists in a five-game point streak.

 

What's next

Predators: At the Buffalo Sabres on Monday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-TN, NHL.TV)

Avalanche: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-D, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Sissons, Forsberg propel Preds past Avalanche, 4-2

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