Series (Game 3 of 4)

Nashville leads 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, October 8th
Game 2: Wednesday, November 25th
Game 3: Friday, January 22nd
Game 4: Thursday, February 4th

Predators 1

(29-19-3, 61 pts)

Avalanche 2

(29-15-6, 64 pts)

9:00 PM ET, January 22, 2010

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

1 2 3 T
NSH 0 1 01
COL 1 1 02

M. Duchene (Avalanche - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

B. Yip (Avalanche - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

C. Franson (Predators - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Predators-Avalanche Preview


A cluster of teams are jockeying for position in the Western Conference playoff race, and the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche are right in the middle of that mix.

Separated by one point, the Predators look to bounce back from a disappointing loss Friday night when they visit an Avalanche team seeking its first five-game winning streak in more than a year.

Nashville (29-18-3) still has 61 points after opening a critical four-game road trip with a 4-2 loss to Phoenix on Thursday. The Predators were in position to win, leading 2-1 after two periods behind goals from Patric Hornqvist and Martin Erat, but Coyotes right wing Scottie Upshall had a natural hat trick in the third period to send Nashville to its second straight defeat.

"Today was very important and we fell short," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "We've lost two in a row and we have to get back to winning."

With the latest loss, the Predators allowed Phoenix and Vancouver to surpass them, as they dropped from fourth to sixth in the West.

The Avalanche (28-15-6) have 62 points and are tied atop the Northwest Division with the Canucks. Though both teams have the same number of points, Colorado is third in the conference because it's played one fewer game than Vancouver.

Colorado and Nashville have met twice this season with the Predators winning both in thrilling fashion.

Nashville rallied for two goals -- both by Hornqvist -- in the final 6 1/2 minutes to win 3-2 at home on Oct. 8. Center David Legwand scored 3:07 into overtime in a 4-3 victory in Colorado on Nov. 25.

The Avalanche should be well-rested for this matchup having not played since Monday's 6-0 rout of last-place Edmonton. Kyle Cumiskey and rookie Matt Duchene each scored twice for Colorado, which won a fourth straight game for the third time this season.

The Avalanche, 7-3-0 since Dec. 29, haven't won five consecutive games since Oct. 16-25, 2008.

This is quite a turnaround for Colorado, which finished last in the West in 2008-09 with 69 points -- seven fewer than it has through 49 games this season.

"Anytime you win it's a lot more fun," said defenseman John-Michael Liles, who had a goal and two assists for a season-high three points against the Oilers. "I think going through the season we did last year wasn't so much fun and you want to enjoy it when you win. ... We've been able to win and enjoy it."

Craig Anderson stopped 24 shots Monday, and has been instrumental to Colorado's turnaround after signing with the club as a free agent.

Anderson, who has already set personal bests in starts (41), wins (24), shutouts (four) and minutes (2,461), has started each game of the winning streak, posting a 1.44 goals-against average. However, he was in net for both losses to the Predators this season, stopping 57 of 64 shots.

While Anderson has helped solidify the defense, Chris Stewart is doing his part to carry the offense.

Stewart has scored in each of the last three games to tie Wojtek Wolski for the team lead with 16 goals. Stewart has 15 goals and 27 points in his last 26 contests, but has been limited to one assist against Nashville this season.

Pekka Rinne may start in goal for the Predators after Dan Ellis was in net Thursday. Rinne, who is 4-1-0 with a 2.93 GAA in his last six starts, stopped 19 shots during the win in Colorado in November.