NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators are playing well right now, having won three straight and six of their past seven.
The wins are helping them keep pace in the Western Conference.
David Legwand scored his second goal of the game at 4:26 of overtime, and the Predators rallied from a two-goal first-period deficit in beating the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Thursday night.
Legwand scored the winner on a rebound of his own shot.
“It seems like everyone else is winning six out of seven too, so it’s kind of tough,” Legwand said. “You’ve got to keep winning obviously. Other teams are winning, so we have to keep winning.”
It helps playing Colorado, and the Predators have won seven straight over Colorado and nine of 10 overall in the series dating back to Feb. 4, 2010.
Wins over the Avalanche on Tuesday and Thursday have given Nashville a four-point edge over the Avs in the West.
“Now we have a little bit of separation between us and them,” Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “Every night is the biggest game of the year.”
Legwand started the comeback with a goal in the second period, and Sergei Kostitsyn tied it up in the third.
Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and an assist, and Gabriel Landeskog also had a goal for Colorado.
“It was a point, which we obviously needed in the standings, but I certainly think we could have been a lot better,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said.
The Avalanche outshot Nashville 15-7 in the first period, but the Predators wound up outshooting them 35-29 for the game.
“We just kept coming and coming,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We had some good chances and obviously Legwand has a bit of a penchant for getting the big goals this year. … Coming back after being down two periods allows you to find out what kind of character you have, so this is a real good win for us.”
This game started in a turnaround from Tuesday night when Nashville scored three goals in the first and beat the Avalanche 4-1 in Denver.
O’Reilly celebrated his 200th career NHL game by helping Colorado jump out to a 2-0 lead. The Avalanche points leader got a little help from Rinne on his 12th goal this season.
The goalie was trying to clear the puck when he flicked it toward centre ice where O’Reilly grabbed it and scored on a wrister past Rinne at 6:09 of the first. O’Reilly had the primary assist on Landeskog’s slap shot for a 2-0 lead at 12:17.
“He didn’t get a lot on it,” O’Reilly said of Rinne’s clearing attempt. “I just kind of threw it up over the pad. (He) came across real quick. He almost stopped it, but I got a lucky bounce there.”
Rinne blamed himself for both goals.
“It’s not a good feeling obviously,” Rinne said.
It was the kind of start Sacco wanted before becoming too passive in the second period.
“Instead of us forcing the issue and playing more in their face, we started to sit back a little bit, and that’s what happens when you play on your heels,” Sacco said.
The Predators started clicking and attacking in the second as they outshot Colorado 14-7. That included Legwand’s goal as he scored off the rebound of Matt Halischuk’s wraparound attempt at 12:17.
Nashville came in with the Western Conference’s second-most productive power play behind only Vancouver and had converted on five of its past eight power plays.
Not against Colorado. The Predators were shut out on their six opportunities with the man advantage largely thanks to Jean-Sebastien Giguere in net.
But Kostitsyn tied it with his ninth goal this season at 8:49 of the third with his wrister from the left circle over Giguere’s glove.
Nashville kept up the pressure, and Giguere kept it tied with great save after save. He was sprawled on his belly with his head toward the net when he stopped a shot from Jordin Tootoo with his stick with less than 5 minutes left.
In overtime, Giguere managed to stop Legwand’s first shot after the Nashville centre had skated across the right circle, but couldn’t stop Legwand off the rebound.
Notes: Nashville C Mike Fisher had an assist on Kostitsyn’s goal, giving him six in five games. … Nashville D Roman Josi has an assist in three straight games. … Colorado LW Cody McLeod picked up a goaltender interference penalty midway through the first, giving him 100 penalty minutes for the season. That also made him the first player in Colorado history with 100 penalty minutes in five straight seasons. … Colorado C Peter Mueller played his first game after missing 40 games due to a head injury. He played 13:10 and had five shots. … D Erik Johnson returned after missing a game with a hand injury.