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Predators drop fourth in a row in loss to Avalanche

DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado Avalanche enjoyed a night of rarities
at the Pepsi Center: goals from Bob Boughner and Brett Clark and
chants of "Abby! Abby!" for the first time in more than a month.

Scuffling goalie David Aebischer snapped a personal four-game
losing streak in Colorado's 3-0 win over Nashville on Tuesday
night. He stopped 32 shots and his second shutout this season and
12th of his career sent the Predators to their fourth straight
loss.

"It was awesome for Abby," Boughner said. "There's been a lot
of scrutiny the last few weeks with our goaltending. They just need
some confidence. He was a star tonight and he looked very, very
confident back there, and it showed in our team play. When he's
stopping the big plays, it adds something to our team."

So do the goals from unlikely sources.

"It's a bonus getting goals from guys that are unexpected
because it takes the pressure off the other guys," said Clark, a
defenseman who scored his career-best third goal of the season.
"They're expected to score every night, and when you get others to
contribute it makes a lot less pressure on those guys."

Even rarer was Boughner goal, his first in nearly two years.

"That's the job of our line. Get it deep, cause some commotion,
be physical and try to get some garbage goals," Boughner said.

Boughner, a defenseman playing on the fourth line, picked up a
rebound off of Alex Tanguay's shot in front of the net and put it
past Tomas Vokoun at 15:23 of the first period. It was the first
goal since Jan. 28, 2003, for Boughner, who hadn't even dressed for
19 of the Avalanche's 41 games this season.

"It was nice to jump out to a lead. Everybody knows I've been
in and out of the lineup a bit and I've seemed to find a spot at
right wing," Boughner said. "It feels good to get my first, but
even better to kick-start my team. It was a weird first period
until that goal. It was a good one for us."

Aebischer won for the first time since Nov. 29, and his
performance was all the more gratifying because the Avs were
short-handed for half of the third period, when they killed five
penalties.

"Our PK was a big key tonight," Aebischer said. "We played
really well. They have a really good power play, [Paul] Kariya and
[Steve] Sullivan on each side. It's pretty tough to defend, but we
did a good job."

The Predators were 0-for-10 on power plays, killing two
themselves by taking penalties. During their four-game skid,
they've converted just one of 27 power plays.

"When we should shoot, we are passing, and when we should pass,
we're shooting," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We are a
little bit out of whack there."

On their last power play, they yanked Vokoun with 2:35 left to
secure a 6-on-4 advantage but still couldn't break through to avoid
their first shutout this season. And Tanguay scored an empty-netter
with 19 seconds left -- the only shot for Colorado in the third
period.

"We had a bunch of chances," Nashville's Scott Hartnell said.
"You look at the names on our power play, and we should have two
or three goals off that each night. Goalies can stop the puck if
they are able to see it, and we didn't do a good job of that. We
had a bunch of shots there at the end, and they just weren't going
in."

Trotz said it has to do with effort as well as execution.

"The more this league changes, the more it stays the same, you
have to put pucks and people in front of the net and keep loose
pucks alive," he said.

The Avalanche broke through on their third power play when Joe
Sakic made a crossing pass to Clark, who beat Vokoun to the glove
side in the second period.

Sullivan had a short-handed breakaway for Nashville with two
minutes remaining in the second period but missed the net. It was
that kind of night for the slumping Predators, who lead the league
with six wins when trailing heading into the third period but
couldn't muster a comeback against Colorado, which beat Nashville
for the first time since Nov. 24, 2003.

Aebischer was just glad to put 2005 behind him after a miserable
month of December.

"It happened before, it'll probably happen again to have
slumps," he said. "I just hope it's not as long as this one."

Game notes
Colorado and Nashville play their series finale Feb. 2 in
Nashville. ... Aebischer's first shutout of the season was Nov. 25
against Columbus.