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Rinne, Predators shut out Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- The ability to bounce back from a loss is a quality good teams have, and it's something the Nashville Predators have done on a regular basis this season.

Goalie Pekka Rinne made 26 saves in the Predators' 3-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Tuesday, ensuring they wouldn't lose two games in a row for the first time this season.

"If you want to be one of the top teams, that's what top teams do," said rookie forward Filip Forsberg, who scored on a breakaway at 2:23 of the first period and had an assist on James Neal's empty-net goal with 57.7 seconds left in the third. "That's a key for our success. Even if we win and don't play great, we try to bounce back."

Gabriel Bourque, who set up Forsberg's goal, scored into an empty net with 1:50 remaining.

Rinne wasn't tested much while earning his NHL-leading 18th win. It was his third shutout of the season and 35th of his career.

"They have individuals who can change the momentum of the game, speedy guys," Rinne said. "We had to keep the puck in their zone. It was a tough game. Their young goalie (rookie Calvin Pickard) played really well. He had a great night, he was the key card for them. They have guys that can score, but we limited their chances."

Forsberg, who leads NHL rookies with 12 goals and 27 points, raced down right wing after taking a pass from Bourque with Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in pursuit. Forsberg cut to the net and put a wrist shot by Pickard's left arm.

"I was trying to get it as high as possible," Forsberg said. "I was coming pretty close and got cut off by the backchecker. So I was trying to go high and I was fortunate on that one."

Pickard, who had 33 saves, was recalled Monday from Lake Erie in the American Hockey League because goalie Semyon Varlamov is expected to miss about two weeks because of a groin injury.

"It was a partial breakaway and maybe I went down a little bit early," Pickard said of Forsberg's goal. "Good players make you pay, and he made me pay. I played against him last year in the minors. He had a couple goals against me. I know what he's capable of, their whole line. They're a good line and they're having a lot of success. We knew we had to key on them and I thought we did a pretty good job."

Forsberg had another breakaway at 12:59 of the first period after accepting a pass from Ryan Ellis, but Pickard made a pad save. Alex Tanguay was assessed a hooking penalty, but the Avalanche killed off the ensuing power play.

The Avalanche killed all six of the Predators' power plays, including a four-minute advantage after Jarome Iginla was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Neal with 22.2 seconds left in the second period.

The Predators have failed to score on 27 consecutive power plays in an eight-game stretch.

"We didn't score, that's the bottom line," Predators defenseman Shea Weber said. "It was a tight game and Pekka played well. If we're playing in their end, they can't get offensive opportunities. We tried not to feed their transition game."

The Predators held the Avalanche without a shot on goal during a 10-minute stretch of the second period. Colorado's best scoring chance came at 16:30 when Gabriel Landeskog corralled a rebound outside the crease and shot the puck off the right goal post.

"When you hear the noise when it hits the post, you get away with one," Rinne said. "It's a big relief. It was a close call."

The Avalanche, who have lost four games in a row, have had trouble scoring all season. They have been shut out four times and scored two goals or fewer in 11 other games.

"We didn't have nearly enough [scoring chances]," center Matt Duchene said. "They did a good job, they're a good defensive team, but we have to generate more. [Pickard] gave us a chance to win, we gave ourselves a chance to win by how we played defensively and on the penalty kill. It's not a 3-0 game, it's a 1-0 game, but the goose egg is on the board for us for a reason.

"It's not like we've been scoring four or five a game. Tonight we didn't show up offensively. We're not getting anything going right now. We're frustrated because we're not winning games. No matter who's playing well or who's not, we're not winning. We win and lose as a team. It would have been nice to play in front of [Pickard] like he played back there, but we didn't. We have to figure this thing out and see what's going wrong here. I know we have to finds ways to generate more offense and score more goals."

Nashville center Paul Gaustad left because of a lower-body injury after two shifts in the first period. He missed the two previous games because of a similar injury.

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