McLeod, Budaj help Avalanche jolt Predators

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By Derek Nagy

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) -- Cody McLeod scored two goals and Peter Budaj

stopped 25 shots as the Colorado Avalanche notched their third

consecutive victory with a 5-1 triumph over the Nashville

Predators on Monday night.

Rookie Chris Stewart, David Jones and defenseman John-Michael

Liles also tallied and Marek Svatos and Wojtek Wolski notched

two assists apiece for Colorado, which has won six of its last

eight games and is three games over the .500 mark for the first

time this season.

McLeod opened the scoring just 8:34 into the first period after

a pass from Svatos along the left boards somehow slid past

defenseman Greg Zanon and goaltender Pekka Rinne. McLeod

collected the puck and knocked it into the net to give Colorado

a 1-0 advantage.

Colorado doubled its lead just under three minutes later, when

McLeod redirected defenseman Brett Clark's slap shot from the

just inside the blue line on the left side. The puck was

initially deflected by a diving Nashville player trying to block

the shot, but hit his leg and then was redirected in the net by

McLeod.

McLeod has a pair of two-goal games this season and has six on

the season.

"Lucky bounces, but work hard and you get the bounces," McLeod

said. "Just go to the net and you're going to get bounces here

and there. Some go in, some don't. But they went in tonight."

Stewart and Jones tallied for the Avalanche in the second as

Colorado built a 4-0 lead before Nashville got on the board.

"The younger guys have to step up, including myself," McLeod

said. "The young guys scored goals tonight and we just have to

keep doing that. It's a 20-man effort and everybody contributed

tonight."

Following a four-minute penalty given to Colorado's Darcy

Tucker, captain Jason Arnott fired a slap shot from the top of

the left circle that hit defenseman Adam Foote's stick and

kicked just enough to confuse Budaj as the Predators cut the

lead to 4-1. It was Arnott's first goal since December 1 at

Buffalo.

"Things just aren't going our way," Predators coach Barry Trotz

said. "Pucks are going off our guys into the net more than the

other team's players. It's just a little bit of unfortunate luck

and a slow start and at the same time we have to capitalize on

our offensive chances. We had tons of chances."

Liles ended any thought of a Nashville comeback just 48 seconds

into the third period when he scored on a 2-on-none breakaway

with Ryan Smyth that gave the Avalanche a 5-1 lead.

"It wasn't one of our prettier wins, but sometimes you're

fortunate and you get the bounces and that was definitely the

case tonight," Liles said.

Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 16 shots but dropped

his second consecutive decision following a 7-1-0 start.

"I felt good, obviously I'm not happy with the result," Rinne

said. "It was just one of those nights where it seems like every

single chance they got they scored. It's really frustrating."

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