April 19, 2018 / 5:12 AM / 5 months ago

Predators hold off Avalanche to grab 3-1 series lead

EditorsNote: rewords second graf

There was no fast start Wednesday night for the Colorado Avalanche, and not even a fast finish was good enough to notch a series-equalizing victory.

Nashville scored two second-period goals immediately after killing penalties, and Pekka Rinne stopped 31 shots in a 3-2 win at the Pepsi Center in Denver, giving the Predators a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Nashville can wrap up the series Friday night at home in Bridgestone Arena, where it has won 15 of its past 17 playoff games, dating to 2016. Making matters worse for Colorado is that it might have to play Game 5 without starting goalie Jonathan Bernier, who departed after the second period with a lower-body injury.

After allowing the first goal on the first shot in each of the first two games and on the second shot in the Avalanche’s 5-3 Game 3 win Monday night, the Predators left Colorado in the starting block this time. They squeezed off eight shots in the first 5:06, and only Bernier’s brilliance kept the game scoreless.

However, Bernier couldn’t do a thing about Filip Forsberg’s third goal of the series at 15:33 of the first period. Forsberg powered around defenseman Duncan Siemens from the left wing, then deked around Bernier and slipped a wrister into a vacated net.

The Avalanche whiffed on a five-on-three power play early in the second period. Nashville made Colorado pay when Colton Sissons slotted a wrister by Bernier at 7:18 for his third goal of the series and a 2-0 lead.

Another failed man advantage by Colorado led to the Predators’ next goal. Craig Smith came directly out of the box with plenty of room to operate on the left wing, and he wired a wrister from the circle over Bernier’s left shoulder at 11:49 of the second.

The Avalanche finally got on the board during its second five-on-three advantage of the night. Gabriel Landeskog scored his third marker of the series at 5:20 of the third period. Alex Kerfoot drew Colorado within a goal on a rebound tally at 11:01, the play surviving a replay review for goaltender interference.

Colorado almost forced overtime with a sixth skater, but Colin Wilson hit a post from point-blank range in the final 90 seconds.

Bernier finished with 23 saves on 26 shots. Backup Andrew Hammond made eight saves in the third period.

—Field Level Media

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