Predators' 4-3 win eliminates Avs from playoff contention
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators are trying to tune themselves up for the postseason. They took a step Tuesday night against a team desperate to preserve its own playoff hopes for another night.
Craig Smith scored at 4:17 of the third period, and the Predators eliminated Colorado from playoff contention by edging the Avalanche 4-3.
The Predators snapped a four-game winless skid that started with a loss to Colorado in Nashville on March 28. Colin Wilson and Filip Forsberg each had a goal and an assist for Nashville, and Ryan Johansen had two assists.
''We still have a little ways to go in how we want to play, but it's just nice to be back on the winning side of things,'' Johansen said. ''There were a few big plays from some guys in here today.''
Shawn Mattias had a goal and an assist, and Jarome Iginla and Mikkel Boedker each scored a goal as Colorado lost its fourth straight.
''It's so fresh right now that I don't even know what to say right now,'' Avs forward Gabriel Landeskog said.
The Avalanche had to win out with Minnesota losing its final two to catch the Wild for the Western Conference's second wild-card berth. The Wild lost 3-0 at home to San Jose, and the Avalanche rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 when Mattias scored off a rebound at 1:58 to tie it up again.
Colorado coach Patrick Roy pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov with more than 3 minutes left and took his timeout with 2:23 remaining.
When Johansen's stick caught Boedker in the face, the Avs had a 6-on-4 for the final 1:57. Predators forward Paul Gaustad blocked a shot from Tyson Barrie, and goalie Pekka Rinne smothered a shot from Carl Soderberg at the left post with 22.6 seconds left to preserve the win.
It's the second straight season Colorado has missed the postseason, and Roy said obviously he is very disappointed.
''That's not what we expect for this team,'' Roy said. ''We expect more for this team. Yes, we had some bad luck toward the end losing (Matt) Duchene and (Nathan) MacKinnon at the wrong time. I get it, it's such a fine line for any team to make the playoffs.''
This game started pretty sluggishly with the Predators holding the first wild card in the West and unable to do anything to improve their position for the postseason. Johansen finally got the first shot on goal at 5:37 of the first period before Wilson scored on a wrister from just inside the left circle at 8:15 to put Nashville up 1-0.
Colorado defenseman Zach Redmond went to the box for slashing followed by Francois Beauchemin for hooking, giving Nashville a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:33. A minute later, Forsberg scored his 32nd goal this season from in front with a wrister through his legs that put Nashville up 2-0. That put Forsberg a goal from Jason Arnott's single-season record for Nashville.
''Not a lot of players can do that,'' Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said of Forsberg's goal. ''It's one of those you will probably see rolling over the airways quite a few times. ... He was jammed up and that was the only way he could have put it in. So for him to be able to have that skill level to do it is impressive.''
Boedker put Colorado on the board with a wrister that squeezed by Rinne at 16:12 of the first. The Avalanche outshot Nashville 14-8 in the second by controlling the puck much of the period before Iginla tied it up with his 21st goal off a wrist shot with 2 1/2 minutes left in the period.
In the third, Fisher put Nashville up 3-2 on a snap shot from the left side off a cross-ice pass from Roman Josi. The lead didn't last long before Mattias tied it up again. Smith put the Predators ahead to stay, scoring off a wrister behind Varlamov, who was at the edge of the crease.
NOTES: Nashville's defensemen now have 199 combined points, a team record. ... Colorado took the season series 3-2. ... Johansen extended his point streak to four games and now has one goal and five assists in this stretch. ... Arnott scored 33 goals in 2008-09 for the Predators. ... Rinne made 25 saves and improved to 33-21-10.