DENVER – A few days off doesn’t seem to bother Dan Ellis. Nashville’s No. 2 goalie has been playing like a No. 1.
Starting for the first time in five games, Ellis showed no sign of being stale, stopping 39 shots, and Martin Erat scored two goals to lead the Predators to a 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night.
“I know my role and I like it,” said Ellis, who plays behind Chris Mason. “I’m comfortable making starts after Chris has played the night before and I feel good playing after not playing for several days.”
It was the fourth shutout of the season for Ellis, who improved to 11-5-1 and gave the Predators their third straight win.
“I stay sharp by working on as much of my game as can in practice,” Ellis. said. “I stay calm by staying light and not too serious between starts and then really dial it in and become focused when I do start.”
Mason had started the previous four games, including Monday night’s victory over St. Louis.
“You can see we don’t have any drop off when we start Dan,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “He gives us quality goaltending every time we need to give Chris some time off.”
Erat scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season. Shea Weber and Alexander Radulov added goals for the Predators. J.P. Dumont had an assist to extend his point streak to 13 games (9-9-18).
Colorado is 4-1-1 in its last six games.
“I liked the way we competed and liked the energy we were brought,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. “We just need to get it to a higher level than we had it for most of the night.”
Jose Theodore, who has started the last nine games for Colorado, had 25 saves.
“I think in the first two periods I was fine,” Theodore said. “But in the third they found a few holes.”
Weber beat Theodore stick side with a slap shot from the left point with 15 seconds left in the power play at 4:51 of the first period.
Moments later, Ellis caught the first of two breaks when Colorado’s Scott Hannan missed a wide open net. Jeff Finger hit the left post with the Avalanche on the power play at 13:10 of the period.
Nashville missed a scoring chance when Vernon Fiddler hit the left post at 10:20 of the first period. The Predators were outshot 15-10 in the first period, but led 1-0.
Ellis survived an early flurry in the opening minute of the second period, stopping shots by Tyler Arnason and Marek Svatos. Nashville had a 11-10 shot advantage in the period but managed only one shot in two scoreless power plays.
Nashville put the game away with three goals in the first 5:53 of the third period. Erat scored on a pass from behind the net by Jason Arnott 59 seconds into the period.
“It was our intention to get quick strikes in the third period,” Erat said. “Go right after them, take them out of their game and that’s what we did.”
Dumont zig-zagged his way through the Colorado defence and set up Radulov alone in front of the net at 2:19. Erat got his second goal of the night at 5:53 with the Predators on the power play.
“Their second goal was huge,” Quenneville said. “We had a terrible start to the third period where we had been pretty good lately, too.”
Notes: The Predators are 5-2-1 on the second night of back-to-back games. … Weber scored his third goal of the year and his second in as many nights. … Radulov was shaken up briefly when he was levelled by Colorado D Karlis Skrastins in the second period. … The Avalanche assigned D Darcy Campbell and LW Philippe Dupuis, who were acquired from Columbus to their AHL affiliate Lake Erie. … Colorado was 0-for-4 on the power play. … The teams split the four-game season series.