Fisher helps Predators to 5-2 win over Avalanche

DENVER (AP) So the NHL playoffs are still a month off.

Shea Weber realizes that, but he thought this game still had a postseason feel to it.

Now if only Nashville could be playing this well when the playoffs really do get rolling.

Mike Fisher broke a tie with 9:44 remaining in a four-goal third period, Pekka Rinne stopped 34 shots and the Predators ran their streak to 12 straight games with at least a point by beating the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Saturday.

The Predators haven't lost in regulation since Feb. 9 as they improve to 8-0-4 during the streak.

''At this time of the season, that's probably as close to a playoff game as you're going to get,'' Weber said. ''It's good the guys responded.

''We're just trying to focus on setting ourselves up and catching some of the teams ahead of us - and put some distance between the teams that are chasing us.''

They did at that - and may have dealt a serious blow to Colorado's postseason chances.

The Avs are in a scuffle with Minnesota for the final wild-card spot. Minnesota rallied for a win Saturday in Buffalo, while Colorado faltered in the third period.

A big, big swing.

Not only that, but Nashville gains even more ground on Colorado despite being 1-2 against the Avalanche this season. The Predators have 78 points while Minnesota has 72 and Colorado 70.

''We knew what we were in for,'' Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. ''A good team win tonight, in a playoff-type atmosphere.''

The Predators trailed 2-1 heading into the third period, but needed only 62 seconds to tie it up when James Neal scored.

Later, Fisher took advantage of Colorado's inability to clear the puck by knocking a shot past Calvin Pickard for the go-ahead score.

Weber and Miikka Salomaki added empty-netters.

The Predators' message heading into the third? Simple: Keep doing what they're doing.

''Don't think about the scoreboard or whether you're behind,'' Laviolette said. ''Focus on winning the third period.''

Colorado is trying to move on from a disastrous third period.

''Needs to be better,'' Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. ''We need to play smarter.''

Blake Comeau and Gabriel Landeskog scored for the Avalanche.

Colorado pulled Pickard with around 2:15 remaining, but couldn't get anything past Rinne and led to this game turning into a rout. Weber's goal tied him with Martin Erat for second place on the team's all-time goals list with 163.

''Guess I've been around here too long,'' Weber said. ''Took long enough, I guess. I don't even pay attention to it, honestly.''

Neal tied the game at 2 early in the final period on a play that was set up by Ryan Johansen, who picked off an errant pass and skated into the zone. Johansen's shot bounced off Pickard's pads and Neal was there to put it into the net.

''We made mistakes and paid for them,'' Roy said.

Such as in the second period, when Colorado committed a turnover behind the net. Filip Forsberg raced toward a loose puck and tapped it in. It was his 18th goal since New Year's Day.

Despite being outshot 15-9 in the first period, the Avalanche took a 1-0 lead when Comeau knocked in a shot as he was falling down. It was Comeau's first goal since Feb. 12.

Toward the end of the opening period, Jarome Iginla got into a fight with forward Austin Watson. Iginla landed several right hooks on a player who is 14 years younger than him.

Pickard was back in net after a sensational third period Thursday during a win over Florida. He stopped 24 shots, which set an Avalanche record for a period.

The old mark belonged to his coach, Patrick Roy, who had 23 saves in the first period on March 25, 1997, and matched it in the third period on Oct. 15, 1997.

''No time to sit around and pout,'' Landeskog said. ''We need to get back on the horse.''

NOTES: Nashville kicked off a five-game trip. ... Defenseman Eric Gelinas missed his second straight game with a back ailment. He was acquired last Monday in a deal with New Jersey at the trade deadline.

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