NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators are trying to claw their way back into the Western Conference playoff race.
David Legwand scored with 1:14 left, and the Nashville Predators edged Colorado 3-1 Tuesday night to avoid being swept by the Avalanche and pick up points in a second game in as many days.
“It’s really important because we’re right in the thick of things right now, which is great,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
The Predators scored twice Monday night to force overtime before losing 3-2 in a shootout in Chicago.
On Tuesday night, they were trailing 1-0 in the third before Patric Hornqvist scored a power-play goal that tied it at 1 at 8:23.
Taylor Beck had two assists, and Paul Gaustad had an empty-netter with 14.7 seconds remaining with an assist from Legwand finishing off the win.
“This was a huge game for us obviously,” Hornqvist said. “If we lost tonight, it would have been tough to make the playoffs. And now with a win, everybody is happy and we are going forward with that, but we still have to win more games to get in the races.” Matt Duchene scored on a breakaway 61 seconds into the third for Colorado, which missed a chance to sweep the Predators for the first time in franchise history.
Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 35 saves in giving the Avalanche a chance at their second win over Nashville in four days and just their third road win this season.
“Giguere played one heck of a game for us, and that was definitely not the way to repay him, that’s for sure,” Duchene said.
Colorado won the first two games in Denver in ending Nashville’s recent dominance over the Avalanche in this series.
But the Predators outshot them 18-10 in the third period to pull out a win Nashville needs to keep hope alive at an eighth playoff berth in nine years.
Duchene scored Colorado’s goal when he got the puck just inside his own blue line, skated past at least three Predators and beat goalie Pekka Rinne with a wrister 61 seconds into the third.
That’s when Nashville started throwing even more pucks at Giguere. Hornqvist tied it up with a power-play goal after Brad Malone went to the box for high-sticking at 8:01, and Hornqvist scored 22 seconds later as he poked his stick at the puck through a scrum in front of the goal.
“We had a young player take an offensive zone penalty, and they tie the game up there too,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. “Those are just some mistakes you can’t afford to make when you are going through a tough time like this.”
Nashville fans then gave the Predators a boost with standing ovation late in the period.
“The last two games the third period has been excellent,” Legwand said. “Tonight we pulled through it in the end there. We got down by one, and the guys did not give up. We got a power-play goal and then we piggybacked off of the crowd there at the end of the game.”
Legwand fought for the puck off a faceoff, got it from Beck before skating around and throwing a shot at Giguere. Legwand then scored off his own rebound, beating Giguere between the legs with 1:14 left. Gaustad added the insurance goal after Giguere had been pulled for the extra attacker.
“Leggy I thought the last two nights is paying a bigger price, and that whole line has been paying a big price to give us a chance to stay in it,” Trotz said.
Both of these teams lost on the road Monday night with Colorado losing 3-2 at Detroit, while Nashville at least got a crucial point in Chicago.
Nashville outshot the Avalanche in the first period with the Predators missing on several chances, the best by Hornqvist when he waited to shoot with Giguere coming just out of the crease. But Hornqvist had a tough angle and couldn’t get the puck into the net.
Trotz took his timeout at 8:49 of the second, not that it helped.
Nashville had its best scoring chance late in the period as Legwand got the puck at mid-ice and took a shot from the right circle. Giguere blocked that shot, but Legwand got the rebound in the slot and just missed off the side of the post as he was hooked by Colorado defenceman Ryan O’Byrne.
Notes: The Predators’ sellout streak ended at 29 straight with 16,211 on hand. … The Avalanche are 2-14-2 when giving up a power-play goal. … Beck has six points (two goals, four assists) in his past six games. … O’Byrne played in his 300th career game. … Avalanche forward Chuck Kobasew missed a second straight game with stiffness after colliding with Rinne and a goalpost in Saturday’s 1-0 overtime win in Colorado, and David Jones missed his fourth straight with a knee injury.