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Reeling Avalanche set to host Predators

by Davis Harper

PREDATORS (7-3-5) at AVALANCHE (5-7-1)


Last 10: Nashville 6-2-2; Colorado 3-6-1.

Season series: This is the first of three meetings. Nashville has won the past 10 games against Colorado, dating back to the 2009-10 season.

Big story: The Avalanche sit near the bottom of the National Hockey League in nearly every offensive category, while Nashville enters with the League’s best defense and Vezina Trophy frontrunner Pekka Rinne.

Team scope:

Predators: In Rinne, the Predators trust. After a shaky start to the season, Nashville has steadied itself thanks to the hulking Finn. Rinne has three shutouts in his past five outings and his strong play, coupled with Nashville’s suffocating defense, resulted in a three-game winning streak heading into Anaheim on Saturday. He enjoyed another strong outing against the Ducks, saving 20 of 22 in regulation. The Predators matched Anaheim with goals from David Legwand and Shea Weber, the latter notching his first of the season, but the Ducks prevailed in the shootout.

"We played a pretty good game against a pretty good team," coach Barry Trotz said. "Both times we have played them, it has gone to a shootout. Unfortunately, we haven't been on the positive side yet on that shootout, but did we play well? Yeah, absolutely."

Avalanche: Mile-high hopes for the shortened 2012-13 campaign have quickly dissolved for Joe Sacco and the Avalanche, who now appear desperate just to keep their heads above sea level. A rare bright spot came Thursday in Minnesota, when the Avalanche came from behind to beat the Wild in a shootout. But against Edmonton on Saturday, Colorado performed yet another exercise in futility. The Avalanche took a 4-1 lead on goals from Cody McLeod, Matt Duchene, Jamie McGinn and John Mitchell, only to concede five unanswered goals in a 6-4 loss.

A disappointed Sacco called Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 50 shots in the loss, his team’s best player.

"Losing is losing, but this isn't the way you want to lose games," he said. "You're going to lose games here and there, but not the way we lost tonight. It's unacceptable.

"We got what we deserved tonight. We gave up close to 60 shots tonight. That's something we're not proud of as a group."

Who’s hot: Duchene has a goal in his past three games. … Weber might finally be heating up, with a goal and assist in his past two games to bring his season point total to three.

Injury report: For Nashville, Patric Hornqvist has a knee injury and is expected back later this month. … Jean-Sebastien Giguere is day-to-day for personal reasons, while Erik Johnson (head), Ryan Wilson (leg) and Gabriel Landeskog (head) are out indefinitely.

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