MacKinnon’s 2 goals lead Avalanche past Predators 3-2
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Colorado was due for a regular-season win against the Nashville Predators.
Nathan MacKinnon scored twice, Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves and the streaking Avalanche beat Nashville 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Tyson Jost had the other goal for the Avalanche, who have won five straight. Colorado also ended an 11-game losing streak to Nashville in the regular season. The teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season, with Nashville winning the series in six games.
Ryan Hartman and Kevin Fiala scored for the Predators.
With the game tied early in the third period and Colorado on a power play, J.T. Compher slid a pass to Jost in the left circle. He sent a wrist shot through traffic that slipped by Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.
“It was exciting to get that go-ahead goal there,” Jost said. “This was a really fun game. They’re a good team. We knew that it was going to be a big game for us.”
Varlamov was particularly strong in the third period, when he turned aside all 20 Nashville shots he faced. His teammates helped him out late, blocking four shots over the last 2:29 with Rinne lifted for an extra attacker.
“Young teams, you’ve got to keep your poise and your mind about you when things get a little crazy at the end of the game,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “They’re pouring it on, they’re pinching down on everything and we did a nice job of winning all battles and chipping pucks out.”
Hartman scored the game’s first goal at 11:07 of the opening period. He sent a wrist shot from the left point toward the Colorado net that went off the skate of Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard’s right skate and by a surprised Varlamov.
MacKinnon tied it 2:03 later with a power-play goal.
Mikko Rantanen sent a cross-ice pass to MacKinnon in the left circle, where he beat Rinne with a wrist shot underneath the left leg pad.
Rinne finished with 22 saves.
“Tight game,” he said. ”(I) thought we had enough chances to win the game. Give them credit, their power play was very effective tonight. It’s a good team. Obviously it’s disappointing when it’s a division game and you come up short, especially at home.”
Rantanen and MacKinnon combined again at 6:22 of the second to give Colorado a 2-1 lead.
In the high slot, Rantanen found MacKinnon on the right side, and he skated to the lower part of the circle and beat Rinne with a wrist shot low to the far side.
“I was going to cut to the middle, I was just waiting for him to see me,” MacKinnon said of Rantanen. “He’s going to find me if I’m open.”
Colorado is 11 for 22 on the power play in its last six games.
“There was looks both ways and they took one more,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought it was a game that went back and forth. There were lots of chances. Specialty teams (were) the difference.”
Girard, playing against his former team, picked up the secondary assist on both of MacKinnon’s goals.
Fiala tied the game 2-all at 9:06 of the second.
From above the left circle, Filip Forsberg sent a pass to Fiala skating through the slot, and he was able to redirect the puck by Varlamov on the glove side just underneath the crossbar.
NOTES: Nashville fell to 13-1-0 when scoring first. ... After not allowing a power-play goal in five consecutive games, the Predators have given up three in their last two games. ... Colorado has won five consecutive road games. ... MacKinnon has points in five straight games (five goals, six assists).
Avalanche: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.
Predators: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.