DENVER – Cody McLeod insists he is not a goal scorer.
He sure fooled everyone Monday night, getting his first two-goal game and helping lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 5-1 win over the Nashville Predators.
“I need a great pass and a bit of luck to get my goals,” McLeod said Monday night after his first two-goal game. “You saw that with the goals I got tonight.”
McLeod, who had only nine goals in 84 NHL games coming in, scored his goals less than three minutes apart in the first period. Chris Stewart and David Jones also had goals for Colorado, winners of three straight.
“On the first one I got a great pass and somehow I got the puck past the goalie,” McLeod said. “I hit a stick on the second and I just hope they don’t review it.”
John-Michael Liles had a goal and an assist and goaltender Peter Budaj stopped 25 shots. Budaj shut out the Predators 1-0 on Nov. 8.
“Cody had a great start to the game,” Colorado coach Tony Granato said. “He works so hard, and it’s nice to see him get some chances and be rewarded for his hard work.”
Jason Arnott scored his 14th goal for Nashville which lost for the second time in two nights. Pekka Rinne faced 21 shots and stopped 16.
“They got a little help from the hockey stars,” Rinne said. “They got some lucky bounces, but that’s life.”
McLeod quickly gave the Avalanche a 2-0 lead midway through the first. On the first goal, Marek Svatos sent the puck through the crease and McLeod tapped it past Rinne at 8:34.
“I never saw the pass go past me,” Rinne said. “I’m sorry I was too late to get over and react to the shot.”
Then Rinne’s attempt to clear the puck was intercepted along the boards by T.J. Hensick, who sent a cross ice pass to Brett Clark for a slap shot from the left point. McLeod deflected the shot under Rinne’s glove at 11:30 for a two-goal lead.
Budaj stopped two blistering shots by Shea Weber in the first period.
The tempo picked up in the second period. Stewart and Jones put the Avalanche ahead 4-0. Stewart’s wrist shot from the right circle went under Rinne’s stick at 4:42. Jones took a return pass from Wojtek Wolski and jammed it home at 6:17 of the period.
Darcy Tucker was sent off for four minutes for cross checking and unsportsmanlike minors, and the Predators took advantage when Arnott deflected a shot off an Avalanche player’s skate at 9:17.
“We got off to a slow start and they could have scored a couple of more goals in the period,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We had our chances, missing an empty net or two in the second period when we could have scored five or six goals.”
Budaj escaped further damage by stopping Radek Bonk while sprawled on the ice late in Tucker’s second penalty.
Liles extended the lead to 5-1, 48 seconds into the third period, with his fifth goal of the year.
Notes: The Predators were coming off a 5-2 loss in Edmonton on Sunday night. … Jordin Tootoo missed a check on McLeod and tumbled into the Avalanche bench midway through the second period. … Tootoo and Colorado’s Scott Hannan scuffled briefly in front of the Avalanche crease and both drew roughing penalties in the last 20 seconds of the second period. … Wolski and Svatos had two assists each for the Avalanche. … Milan Hejduk played in his 737th game, tying him with Peter Stastny for fourth place on the franchise’s all-time games played list.