Goaltender Marek Mazanec was solid in net all night long, but it wasn’t enough as the Nashville Predators fell 3-0 to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Friday night.
While the Preds conceded that Colorado played well, the Nashville participants weren’t overly pleased with their effort.
“It wasn’t our best,” forward Matt Cullen said. “I think we had plenty of opportunities to put one past [Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov]. I thought Varlamov played really well, did a good job with controlling rebounds and not allowing us to generate a whole lot of second and third opportunities. I don’t think we had the spark that we’ve had here to make us successful.”
Colorado’s Max Talbot opened up the scoring in the first period, banging home a rebound past Mazanec, for a 1-0 advantage that carried into the intermission.
Filip Forsberg nearly had his team-leading 18th goal of the season near the six-minute mark of the middle frame, but the rookie’s shot after streaking through the slot struck iron to the left of Varlamov. Both clubs had opportunities to capitalize in the second, but the score remained stagnant after two.
“I think we had a couple chances there, especially in the second period where we could’ve gotten one and made it 1-1,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Maybe it’s a different game at that point. [The Avalanche] were opportunistic in the chances that they got. It was a low-event game, they had some chances, we had some good chances and just couldn’t get on the board with one.”
Less than six minutes into the third period, Colorado forward Jarome Iginla tallied just after an Avalanche power play had expired to put his club up by two. The goal was Iginla’s 1200th point in the NHL. Colorado Captain Gabriel Landeskog then added an empty-netter as time wound down in the third.
“We’d like to be better, we’re not pleased with [this effort],” Cullen said of the loss. “We had an opportunity to get back to .500 on the back-to-backs, but we haven’t had a whole lot of them this year, and I think as a young team, that’s part of our growing process.
“We have to find a way to be a little bit better and be a little bit smarter and find ways to bring more energy on these second nights.”
Maz Gets the Nod:
With Carter Hutton getting the night off in the second half of a back-to-back situation, Preds netminder Marek Mazanec made his first start of the 2014-15 season, turning aside 25 shots on the evening.
The Czech netminder kept the Predators within a single goal until the third period, but the skaters in front of him weren’t able to find the equalizer.
“Mazanec gave us an opportunity to win the game, we just didn’t give him much support offensively,” Laviolette said. “I thought he was really good. He looked calm in there, he saw the puck well and tied up things. He made some real big saves, especially in the first period when there were a couple of real good scoring chances against him.”
The Avs outshot the Preds in every period and relied heavily on Mazanec to give them a chance to keep the score close.
“They had a lot of quality chances, and he kept us in the game for 60 minutes,” Predators blueliner Roman Josi said of Mazanec. “He did a great job. It’s not easy with this being his first [full] game of the season, and I thought he was awesome.”
Rest and Regroup:
After back-to-back games on the road, the Preds are looking forward to a day of rest on
Saturday before facing a Penguins team that has won just two of their last seven.
“Absolutely, [Pittsburgh is] a pretty high-powered team and we need to get our rest and get our legs back underneath us,” Cullen said. “We need to bring a lot of jam for the next one.”
Having earned just one point in two games of the three-game trip, the Predators would undoubtedly like to finish off on a high note, but they know it’s never easy on the road.
“It’s definitely important [to rest Saturday],” Laviolette said. “[Sunday’s game] is going to come quick. The turnover and the travel is going to be difficult and we need to get as much rest as we can tonight and get prepared for that game.”
Sunday will be James Neal’s first game back in Pittsburgh since the trade that sent him to Nashville last June.
After two meetings with the Avalanche in four days, the clubs won’t see each other again until Feb. 24. Both of the games played at the Pepsi Center between Nashville and Colorado have featured a 3-0 final score (with the teams splitting the two contests).
With three matchups in the books, Mazanec became the fifth goalie used in the season series between the Avs and Preds. The other netminders that have seen action in the trio of contests are Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Carter Hutton, and Colorado’s Calvin Pickard and Semyon Varlamov.
The Predators and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, both lost on Jan. 30, marking the first time the two team have lost on the same day since Dec. 29. The Ads, who also fell 3-0, saw a franchise record nine-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Grand Rapid Griffins.