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New Contributors Help Preds to Big Win Over Avalanche

Three Things: Preds Start Strong and Receive First Goals from Irwin, Johansen

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

It was going to happen eventually.

The Nashville Predators knew they had too much skill, too much talent and too much desire to win to continue ending up in the loss column. And while their 5-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center won't solve everything, it could do a great deal in continuing to build confidence for a Preds team that picked up their first road win of the season.

Matt Irwin, Ryan Johansen, Roman Josi and Craig Smith (twice) all found the back of the net, and Pekka Rinne turned aside 28 shots on the evening for a quality result over a division rival they'll play four more times this season.

"It's a big win," Irwin said. "I think we built off of our third period in San Jose and strung together a pretty solid 60 minutes. We just have to be happy with it; we got contributions from everyone, Peks was good in net. Our game plan was just to get the puck out of our D's hands, get it up to the forward with speed, and I think we executed that."

Video: Smith pots a pair as Preds cruise past Avs, 5-1

Start 'Em Up:

Getting off to a quick start on Tuesday night was a point of emphasis for the Preds heading into the contest. Scoring a goal just 1:33 into the game did the trick.

Mike Ribeiro found Craig Smith streaking to the net, and the winger redirected the puck past Semyon Varlamov for his third of the season and an early Nashville lead, a huge confidence boost for a club that had only scored the first goal of the game once before tonight.

"It's huge anytime you can get it in the first couple shifts of the game, and it gives everybody on the bench some life," Irwin said. "They answered pretty quickly, and then were fortunate enough to get another pretty quick one after that, so going into the first intermission with the lead was huge for us."

Video: NSH@COL: Johansen finds rebound, nets sharp-angle PPG

Joey's First:

A game after James Neal found the back of the net for the first time this season, another one of Nashville's offensive weapons put the puck over the line for the initial time.

In the same building where he scored his first goal in his first game as a member of the Preds last season, Ryan Johansen collected a loose puck at the side of the net with the man advantage, and with his entire body behind the goal line, managed to deposit the mail for a two-goal lead - and then breathe a sigh of relief.

"Things are turning a little bit just offensively," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "We seem to be staying in a little bit longer, getting more looks, more attempts and with that's going to come more results. It's nice to get those guys going, and I think that you gain confidence from that."

And while Johansen was certainly happy to get his first, he couldn't help but note all the other contributions made throughout the lineup.

"It feels good to put pucks in the back of the net, so that was nice, but we had guys contributing tonight," Johansen said. "Matty Irwin, huge goal, really happy for him. it was a great, all-around team effort. Colton Sissons blocking shots at the end of the game there, sacrificing his body, making plays to get the puck out… [Austin] Watson's fight, has been playing tremendous for us within his role, so a lot of good things."

Video: NSH@COL: Irwin scores his first goal as a Predator

Come Together:

When asked what he needed to see out of the Preds on Tuesday night, Mike Ribeiro made it pretty simple. The centerman emphasized that it didn't matter how it happened, Nashville just needed to win. And the Predators produced an effort that Head Coach Peter Laviolette and his players liked, and it got the job done.

"We played some pretty good hockey on the road trip here; we haven't gotten the results, it hasn't been as consistent as it was tonight," Laviolette said. "I would say that's probably the biggest difference is we were consistent with our game. We did good things in San Jose, we just fell behind and a couple tough bounces that happened in San Jose and couldn't come back from it, so I thought tonight was a pretty good effort."

The chance to even the record before the road trip is out on Thursday in Arizona is appetizing, and the Preds are already shifting their focus to continue building off of a strong effort.

"We've still got work to do," Laviolette said. "We have one game left on the road trip, and to go get a win in Arizona, it'll be a big ending to a trip that didn't start the way we wanted."

Notes:

With an assist on Ryan Johansen's power-play goal, Mike Fisher recorded his 200th point as a member of the Preds. Later, Fisher left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return.

Matt Irwin's first-period goal was his 17th career NHL goal and his first tally since March 28, 2015, as a member of the San Jose Sharks.

Winger Cody Bass was activated off Injured Reserve prior to the game and skated on a line with Austin Watson and Colton Sissons against the Avalanche. Kevin Fiala, Harry Zolnierczyk and Matt Carle were scratched for Nashville.

The Preds wrap up their five-game road trip on Thursday night in Arizona against the Coyotes before returning home on Saturday to host Carolina at Bridgestone Arena.

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