EditorsNote: rewords lede
Five different players scored and goalie Pekka Rinne recovered from surrendering a goal on the first shot he faced to make 26 saves as the Nashville Predators beat the visiting Colorado Avalanche 5-4 Saturday afternoon.
Nashville has a 2-0 lead in the opening-round Western Conference playoff series. The best-of-seven affair shifts to Denver on Monday.
Kevin Fiala erased a 1-0 deficit 61 seconds into the second period to send the Predators on their way at Bridgestone Arena. While on a power play, the hosts worked the puck down low to Colton Sissons, and he spied Fiala in the seam between all four penalty-killers. Fiala buried a quick one-timer past Colorado goalie Jonathan Bernier to tie the game.
Viktor Arvidsson put the Predators ahead for good at 12:36 of the second period with an old-school blast. He picked up the puck inside his own zone, raced down the right wing and unloaded from just inside the circle.
Then Ryan Johansen made it a 3-1 Nashville lead with 3:28 remaining in the second period, finishing a partial breakaway with a nifty backhand.
Speaking of impressive backhanders, Colorado’s Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon pulled his team within one just 36 seconds later with a similar shot, but the Avalanche just couldn’t draw even in what became a back-and-forth game the rest of the way.
Nashville’s Austin Watson scored his second goal of the series to make it a 4-2 game at 7:16 of the third period, only to see Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog convert during a five-on-three power play two minutes later to again pull the Avalanche within one goal.
Ryan Hartman’s empty-net goal with 69 seconds remaining appeared to be just an insurance maker, but it ended up the game-winner because Alex Kerfoot scored for Colorado with 35.8 seconds still on the clock.
Gabriel Bourque also scored for the Avalanche, who have lost 12 straight games to the Predators in regular season and playoff action.
Bernier stopped 28 shots for Colorado, which went into the series missing starting goalie Semyon Varlamov and defenseman Erik Johnson only to see blue-liner Sam Girard miss this game due to an upper-body injury.
—Field Level Media