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Preds welcome slumping Avs to Nashville

by John Kreiser
AVALANCHE (26-33-8) at PREDATORS (34-24-10)

TV -- ALTITUDE-2 (HD); FS-Tennessee (HD)

Last 10 -- Colorado 1-7-2; Nashville 3-5-2

Season series -- It's the third of four meetings between the Western Conference rivals. Nashville won the first two, 5-1 at Colorado on Jan. 20 and 5-3 in Nashville four weeks ago.

Big story -- The Predators got off to a good start in their efforts to take care of business at Bridgestone Arena by blanking Minnesota 4-0 Thursday night to open a five-game homestand. They have to the same against the collapsing Avalanche, who come to Music City off a 6-2 home loss to Anaheim on Friday and have fallen completely out of the playoff race.

Team Scope:

Avalanche -- The Avs fell to 0-6-1 in their last seven by losing to the Ducks in a game that Anaheim blew open after Colorado had tied it at 2-2 early in the second period.

"I thought we started out fine," coach Joe Sacco said. "It was a good first period, probably one of the better first periods we've had at home in a long time. Then we gave up a couple of goals. We tie it up and we get back in the game, but then we had some breakdowns and they capitalized on our mistakes. That's kind of the way the game went."

Predators -- Coach Barry Trotz couldn't find much wrong with his team's performance against the Wild on Thursday -- so he didn't have practice on Friday. Trotz said he wanted to give his players a mental break as well as a physical one.

"The his whole month is really tough," he told the team's website. "We have a big game tomorrow night and then four next week. It's really demanding on everybody mentally, so I wanted to give everyone a mental break."

Who's hot -- Martin Erat scored Nashville's third goal on Thursday and assisted on the game winner to give him three consecutive multi-point efforts for the first time in his career. He has 19 points in 18 games since Feb. 1. David Legwand has 6 points during a four-game scoring streak.

Injury report -- The Avs didn't need any more injuries, but they sustained a couple on Friday when Milan Hedjuk hurt his shoulder in the second period and center Paul Stastny hurt his back in the third. Both left and didn't return. Defenseman John-Michael Liles didn't play due to a leg injury, and forward Ryan Stoa is out after undergoing an appendectomy last week. … Nashville is still without a number of regulars, including Steve Sullivan (lower body) and Marcel Goc (shoulder).

Stat pack -- Nashville is 8-3-0 against Colorado in the Avs' last 11 trips to Bridgestone Arena. Goalie Pekka Rinne earned his 20th NHL shutout against Minnesota on Thursday, leaving him one short of Tomas Vokoun's franchise record.

Puck drop -- The Predators are tough to score on anywhere, but especially in the cozy confines of Bridgestone Arena, where they've allowed just 60 non-shootout goals in 30 games. That's not good news for the banged-up Avs, who've dropped 17 of their last 18 and have scored more than three goals against the Preds just once in their last 15 meetings.

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