NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators won the first period – and the game.
Vernon Fiddler, Shea Weber and David Legwand scored first-period goals, and Pekka Rinne made 19 saves in Nashville’s 3-2 victory over Colorado on Thursday night. Ryan Smyth and Wojtek Wolski had first-period goals for the Avalanche.
The Predators are 7-0-0 when leading after the first period and 10-2-0 when scoring the first goal. They’re 8-1-0 when Weber scores.
“Those are good stats and good omens for us,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “We have been behind in so many games 2-0 or 3-1 and it is hard to come back night in and night out. It is taxing on your team because you are pushing the envelope all the time.
“I hope we can keep those stats going. When you score first, especially at home, it gets the crowd into the game. It gives you a lot of good karma.”
Rinne ran his record to 5-0. It was his second win in a row, but Trotz pointed out that Rinne’s record is deceiving.
“There is a little bit of a stat in that he twice gave up three goals real quickly and we scored enough goals to get him off the hook both times,” Trotz said. “Other than those two games he has been pretty good.
“He seals the ice. He is a big body. He has great instincts and reflexes. He feels confident. He has some flow and feels good about himself.”
Wade Belak sent a pass across ice that Fiddler got control of on the left side of the ice. He skated across the goalmouth and backhanded a shot past goalie Peter Budaj at 5:15 of the first period. The Avalanche tied it on a power play, with Smyth beating Rinne to his stick side at 9:03.
The Predators took the lead on Weber’s power-play goal. The defenceman blasted a shot from above the left circle that beat Budaj wide to his glove side at 12:36. The goal came less than a minute into a 4-minute power play after Ian Laperriere was hit with double minor for cross-checking and unsportsmanlike conduct at 11:52.
Wolski scored a short-handed goal from low in the slot at 16:22.
Legwand closed out the first-period scoring with .3 seconds left. He skated in low from the left side and flicked a wrist shot behind Budaj.
“We pressed early and put a lot of pucks at the net,” Legwand said. “It’s always a positive when you can do that and get three goals. Any time we get three goals as a team we should win the game.”
The Avalanche out shot the Predators 15-13 in the last two periods.
“We cannot play catchup hockey,” Smyth said. “Obviously, that late period goal was the difference. With .3 seconds on the clock or whatever it is, we have to get to the end of the period without them scoring again. We did not. “
Both sides were surprised that neither one could find the net again.
“We played hard the last 40 minutes,” Avalanche coach Tony Granato said. “We did everything we could to get back into it. But, obviously, it is a 60-minute game. A bad shift in the first period can be the difference in a game and it was for us.”
Notes: Legwand played in his 574th game for the Predators, a team record. … Budaj shut out the Predators 1-0 on Nov. 6.