Miikka Salomaki and Craig Smith scored for the Nashville Predators, but it wasn’t enough as the Preds fell 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. The loss moves Nashville’s record to 15-10-5 on the season, slotting them fourth in the Central Division.
The Predators pressured the Avs throughout the second and third periods, but going down 2-0 in the first was a less-than-ideal start for the home team, especially after an emotional 5-1 win over Chicago on Thursday.
“We addressed that; we needed to be sharp again,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Colorado came here in the first period with a pretty pointed game. It was direct, it was physical, it was fast and we were catching that in the first period. We need to be better. I’m not going to make any excuses, we needed to be ready for that at the start of the game, regardless of the last opponent or the last game.”
Colorado’s first and second goals came from Francois Beauchemin and Nick Holden, but with 7.7 seconds remaining in the frame, Preds defenseman Ryan Ellis threw a puck on net with Salomaki there to deflect it home to get Nashville on the board.
The second stanza was scoreless, but just 58 seconds into the final frame, Smith scored his second goal in as many games on a slapshot from the left point to even the score at 2-2. Colorado regained the lead when Andreas Martinsen finished off a scramble in front, beating Pekka Rinne for the third Avalanche goal on the night on what proved to be the game winner.
Rinne made 22 saves in the loss, while Nashville outshot the Avs 10-1 in the second period and put 14 more shots on the Colorado net in the third, in addition to hitting the post.
“It just doesn’t want to go in,” defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “They got half of a chance, and it bounced somehow… We just need to bare down and play better. That’s the bottom line.”
“We have to start winning games and be consistent throughout,” Ellis said. “Hopefully we can get a little streak going, but win one, lose one, it’s tough.”
Gif of the Game:
The Preds rotate the puck quickly around the offensive zone until Ryan Ellis feeds Craig Smith for a one-timer score.
Mattias Ekholm on the team’s play in the Central Division:
“Not good enough. Our record is under .500, and we just have to get better. That’s where the big games are and that’s where the playoffs are going to be decided on whether we are in or not. We just have to bear down in those games. They’re huge and we all know it.”
With an assist tonight, Ryan Ellis has points in five of his last six games versus the Avalanche (2g-6a). Craig Smith has points in four of his last five games against Colorado (3g-1a).
Colin Wilson missed his third consecutive game with a lower-body injury.
The Predators host Calgary on Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena before heading on the road for one contest in St. Louis on Thursday.