Avalanche-Predators Preview

Colorado's top players have led the way during the team's recent scoring outburst, but no one could figure out how to get the puck past Nashville's Pekka Rinne earlier this season.

Colorado could face Rinne for the first time since his shutout in December in Tuesday night's visit to the Predators.

The Avalanche (26-23-11) have scored 19 goals in a 4-1-0 stretch, and Nathan MacKinnon's first career hat trick paced them to a 5-4 win over visiting Tampa Bay on Sunday.

MacKinnon ended a 13-game goal drought and has seven points in his last six contests. Gabriel Landeskog had a career-best five-game goal streak snapped Sunday but had an assist to extend his point streak.

The Colorado captain has five goals and two assists in his last six games, and defenseman Tyson Barrie has three goals and two assists in his past four.

Those efforts have helped the Avalanche pull within six points of the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

"It's nice to see those goals start to come," center Matt Duchene said. "We're playing for our lives every day right now, and it shows the character that we have that we're able to have big games like that."

The Avalanche are opening a stretch where they play four of six on the road, where they are seeking to win consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 20 and 21 after beating Chicago 4-1 on Friday.

And there's a good chance Rinne - a Hart and Vezina Trophy candidate - will be out to thwart them.

He stopped 26 shots in a 3-0 road victory Dec. 9 - one of his three shutouts this season - for the Central Division-leading Predators but missed two matchups last month due to a sprained knee. Nashville (40-13-7) took a 4-3 overtime win at home Jan. 27 with Carter Hutton between the pipes but lost 3-0 in Denver three days later with Marek Mazanec.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 shots in Colorado's victory, but he's 2-1-1 with a 3.67 goals-against average in four lifetime games in Nashville, including the overtime loss last month.

Rinne is 22-3-1 with a 1.83 GAA in 26 home games this season and 7-1-1 with a 2.32 GAA lifetime against Colorado.

The Predators have won five straight and 21 of 23 on their own ice, but they needed a late goal in Buffalo on Sunday to avoid a season-high third consecutive overall defeat.

Mike Ribeiro scored with 4:17 left in regulation after Cody Franson's shot bounced off the skates of two Sabres defenders.

"I think as a group we felt pretty confident in the way we were playing tonight," Franson said. "If we kept playing that way, we'd give ourselves chances. And that's what we tried to do."

Ribeiro leads Nashville with five points - all assists - in the season series against Colorado. Six different Predators have scored against the Avalanche, with star rookie Filip Forsberg owning two.

Landeskog has four goals and two assists in his last five matchups against the Predators and Jarome Iginla has tallied five times in a four-game goal-scoring streak in Nashville.

Iginla scored in both games in January.

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