Nashville 6, Colorado 4
Predators hand Avalanche second loss of season
DENVER -- Playing away from home certainly seems to agree with the Nashville Predators. That's definitely a good thing considering they are on a marathon road trip.
Not known as an offensive force, the Predators got four points from Colin Wilson on Wednesday night to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 6-4 at Pepsi Center, ending the Avalanche's winning streak at six games. The loss was the Avalanche's second in 14 games this season.
The Predators have gone 2-0-1 in the first three games of a seven-game, 17-day trip that doesn't end until Nov. 15 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"It was a big win here," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "This is an extremely good team with some dangerous guys and we were able to keep them at bay. They got some good looks, but not enough. Our forwards were really good tonight. They got challenged a little bit and they responded."
Wilson, who began the night with five points (one goal, four assists) in 14 games, nearly matched that total against the Avalanche with two goals and two assists.
"With that kind of style of game, trading chances, a little more wide-open, it helped get me going," Wilson said. "It helped me feel the puck a little bit better. It was so much fun. I had a lot of fun trading chances. It's not the kind of game coaches want to see, but at the same time it was entertaining."
Wilson's second goal of the game snapped a 4-4 tie at 7:34 of the third period. He moved in alone on goalie Semyon Varlamov and scored off a pass from Viktor Stalberg following a turnover by Avalanche forward PA Parenteau.
"I made a mistake on their winning goal and we have to learn from it as a team and move on," Parenteau said.
Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said the Avalanche made too many mistakes throughout and didn't give Varlamov much chance.
"Unfortunately for us we made not only one mistake on [Wilson's second] goal, we made three mistakes in my opinion and the puck wound up in our net," Roy said. "I just think we need to manage our game better. Instead of keeping our game simple, we were forcing things and it cost us the game."
Gabriel Bourque sealed the deal for the Predators by scoring into an empty net with 17.5 seconds left.
"It's too bad because on three occasions we came back," Roy said, referring to 1-0, 2-1 and 4-2 deficits. "We didn't play well defensively. We didn't play as well as normal as a unit. We were not good protecting the front of our net. We made some bad decisions on our breakouts and along the wall. It's a team loss."
Gabriel Landeskog nearly tied the game with 5:30 to play when he moved in on goalie Carter Hutton (27 saves) and backhanded the puck off the crossbar.
"It's a bump in the road," Landeskog said of the loss. "It's going to be good for us. It's going to be a learning experience and it's good for us to know that it's not enough just to show up."
Varlamov allowed a season-high five goals on 27 shots. He limited teams to two goals or fewer in eight of his previous nine starts.
"Nashville played a very good game against us," he said. "They started very well, especially in the first period. They scored the first and second goal, and it's hard to come back in a game in this League."
The Avalanche tied the game 4-4 at 4:23 of the third period on Matt Duchene's 10th goal of the season and third point of the game. Duchene gained possession after Cory Sarich's pass deflected off a Predators stick. He used his speed to skate between defensemen Kevin Klein and Roman Josi before beating Hutton.
"I thought our offense was great," Duchene said. "I thought our offense played well and I don't just mean our forwards. We had a lot of chances, their goalie played pretty well. And what went wrong was our team defense; forwards and [defensemen], didn't play well. We are not going to be our best every night and if anyone thought we were going to have only one loss all season, they're crazy, so this is one to put behind us and go forward."
Wilson collected his third point of the game with a power-play goal at 6:47 of the second period to give the Predators a 4-2 lead, but the Avalanche answered at 13:37 when Paul Stastny moved down the slot and redirected Jamie McGinn's pass behind Hutton.
The Predators went ahead 3-2 at 3:14 when Paul Gaustad tipped Filip Forsberg's shot from near the right-wing boards by Varlamov after Forsberg stopped the puck when Sarich tried to ring it around the boards.
Gaustad's goal came 59 seconds after Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly tied the game. Parenteau gave O'Reilly a drop pass and he ripped a shot that beat Hutton to the glove side.
The Avalanche wanted to start quickly, but the Predators opened the scoring and took a 2-1 lead in the first period on goals by Stalberg and Craig Smith.
Stalberg, with his first goal of the season, converted Wilson's pass at 13:12 after Varlamov made a save against Mattias Ekholm. Wilson scooped up the rebound at the right side of the crease, moved behind the net and passed to Stalberg at the left side for a chip shot into a half-empty net.
The Avalanche tied the score at 15:23 when Duchene fed Parenteau on a 2-on-1 rush, but Smith put Nashville back in front when he scored from the slot for a power-play goal with 52.8 seconds remaining in the period. McGinn was serving a charging penalty for a hit against rookie Seth Jones behind the Predators net.
"My face kind of went into the boards -- my teeth a little bit -- but my head was fine," said Jones, who still logged 26:23 in ice time.
Trotz wasn't happy with McGinn's hit, saying he left his feet to deliver the blow.
"You could see Seth was putting the brakes on, he's got his back turned, he's exactly what we talk about being a vulnerable player," Trotz said. "McGinn takes the two or three hard steps and then I thought he left his feet. My opinion doesn't matter, it's what the League sees. I just thought he hunted him out and he was a vulnerable player, and that's what we're trying to take out of the game."
It didn't help the Avalanche cause that defenseman Ryan Wilson sustained an apparent back injury in the first period and didn't return. Also, defenseman Erik Johnson was assessed a 10-minute misconduct at the end of the second period for handing his broken stick to a fan in the stands.