<
>

Avalanche penalty adds punch to Predators' win

DENVER (AP) -- Seeing Nashville's Simon Gamache skate by without
his helmet, Colorado goalie David Aebischer couldn't resist taking
a shot.

It ended up costing the Avalanche the game.

Marek Zidlicky scored his second goal on a power-play with 6
minutes to play after Aebischer's cheap penalty, helping the
Nashville Predators stay undefeated with a 5-4 victory over
Colorado on Wednesday night.

"It was a stupid play by me to take that call," said
Aebischer, who allowed five goals on 18 shots. "I didn't play the
way I know I can play. It was frustrating to me and it shouldn't
happen."

Nashville seemed sluggish in the early going, looking nothing
like the team that opened the season 2-0 for the first time in
franchise history. Shaky at both ends, the Predators fell behind
3-0 midway through the second period before snapping out of their
funk with two goals in the final eight minutes of the second period
and another early in the third.

"It has been a trend for us the first three games," Zidlicky
said. "We don't come out hard at the beginning of the game and try
to feel the other team out. By that time we are down a goal or two.
That is a trend we have to change."

Colorado seemed to be cruising to its third straight win after
dominating the opening 30 minutes. Steve Konowalchuk scored a
short-handed goal, Marek Svatos got his fifth goal in three games
and defenseman Kurt Sauer scored a rare goal -- he's never had more
than one in three seasons -- to put the Avalanche up 3-0.

But Colorado seemed to go into defensive mode after that,
slowing its pressure on Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun and giving
the Predators plenty of chances, particularly in the final period.

"I think when we had them 3-0, we let up too much," said
Konowalchuk, who also had an assist. "If we go into that period
3-0, that's pretty much our game. But we let up for five minutes."

That's all Nashville needed.

Darcy Hordichuk scored Nashville's first goal at 7:53 of the
second by wheeling around from behind the net and bouncing a shot
off Aebischer's side into the goal. Zidlicky made it 3-2 three
minutes later, scooping up a loose puck in the crease and beating
Aebischer on his stick side, then Paul Kariya tied it 1:22 into the
third on a nice feed from Scott Walker for his first goal against
his former team.

The Avalanche thought they had the lead back 22 seconds later
when Svatos flipped in a rebound, only to have the goal taken away
by the officials, who ruled after a review that the net had come
off its moorings before the shot crossed the line.

"We got a break in the net being off on the Svatos goal, and
our power play came through again and we were able to hang on,"
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.

Nashville's power play got plenty of chances.

After John-Michael Liles beat Vokoun gloveside to put Colorado
up 4-3 early in the third period, forward Brett McLean was called
for headbutting, setting up Steve Sullivan's power-play goal from
behind the net that appeared to bounce off Aebischer and into the
net.

There wasn't much Aebischer could do about the goal, but the
ensuing penalty was certainly his fault.

Gamache lost his helmet in a scuffle behind the goal, then
skated out past the goal to get back into the play. Aebischer gave
the forward a pop to the side of the head as he went by, giving the
linesman in the corner an easy call. Zidlicky took advantage
quickly, needing only a few seconds of the power play -- Nashville's
fifth of the period -- to score from the top of the right circle to
give Nashville its third straight win to open the season.

"I don't think the last goal was the point where things
changed, I shouldn't have taken the two minutes, and I should have
stopped more pucks," Aebischer said.

Game notes
Sullivan played in his 600th career game. ... Sakic's
assist was No. 863 of his career, putting him two behind Denis
Savard for 19th on the all-time list.