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Preds squeak past Avs for third straight home win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- When the Nashville Predators hit the ice for warm-ups, coach Barry Trotz knew his team wasn't at the concentration level he wanted.

The first seven minutes proved he was right. But a power-play goal by Steve Sullivan at 7:42 of the first period gave the Predators the energy they needed to take a 3-2 victory Tuesday night over the Colorado Avalanche.

It was the third victory in a row for the Predators at home. They start a five-game road trip Wednesday night in Chicago.

Marek Zidlicky also scored on the power play for the Predators in the first, with his goal coming at 9:02.

"I think it was important that we scored early on those power plays," said Trotz. "In some of our losses we drew a lot of penalties early but we didn't score. In the first seven minutes we gave up way too many two-on-ones. It showed we weren't mentally
sharp. The power play goals gave us the momentum we needed."

Sullivan gave the Predators a 1-0 lead scoring with a two-man advantage. Standing beside the left goal post, he lifted the puck over Colorado goaltender Vitaly Kolesnik as he was stretched out face down in the crease. Nashville took a 2-0 lead at 9:02 when
Zidlicky scored on a wrist shot from just inside the top of the left circle, putting the puck over the right arm of Kolesnik.

"We got a good cushion in the first period," said Sullivan. "The five-on-three goal was a key for us. The last couple of games we have been able to do that."

The Avalanche closed to within 2-1 on Pierre Turgeon's goal at 16:20 while Colorado had a two-man advantage.

After a scoreless second period, the Predators extended their lead to 3-1 on Scott Hartnell's goal at midway through the third period. He stole the puck from Colorado's Brett Clark at the blue line, skated in one-on-one and went top shelf on Kolesnik.

"I don't think it took the wind out of our sails," said Colorado's Milan Hejduk. "Whether it was a one-goal or a two-goal lead, we needed to get it done."

With less than two minutes left to play John-Michael Liles scored to get Colorado within a goal, but the Avalanche couldn't tie it.

"We were still in the game even after being down 2-0," said Colorado coach Joel Quenneville. "I would have liked to have seen us win more puck battles. This one was definitely available for us. I would have liked to see us grab at least a point."

The game was played with only one referee. Rob Shick had his foot X-rayed prior to the start of the game and it was determined it was broken. Ian Walsh handled the referee duties.

"Walsh is a young guy," said Trotz. "I think he did well for one man. The game is tough to call with one person. I thought he did a real solid job."

Game notes
Sullivan has a goal in each of his last four games. ... The Avalanche has scored at least one power-play goal in each of the last eight games in a row, a total of 12 during that span. ... The Predators have 16 victories at home, the most in the NHL.