The Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche met in Nashville on Thursday night to round out their series for this season. Coming into last night's game, Nashville had the season series lead, winning 2-of-3 against the young Colorado squad.
The matchup saw two teams who are still in the playoff hunt in the Western Conference. However, with their recent run of bad form, Nashville was hoping that their history against Colorado this season would carry them to a win.
In his pregame interview, Predators coach Barry Trotz mentioned that a key to his team's success would come from a strong start in the first period.
On the opposite bench, Joe Sacco's young club looked to make a quick start with their blinding speed to create chances.
Neither team really succeeded with their goals.
The shots on goal were tied 4-4 by the halfway mark of the first period, and there was precious little traffic in front of either net.
Perhaps the only real cause for alarm came when Avalanche linesman Steve Barton left at roughly the 11-minute mark after he got tangled with Predators defenseman Alexander Sulzer. The tangle caused Barton to fall back hard onto the ice. While he didn't hit his head, his back and tailbone absorbed the brunt of the fall. He wouldn't return.
Late in the period saw an end to the "chuck and dump" offense that both teams had exhibited for the majority of the period. The Predators finally sat up an extended presence in the Avalanche's end. While they produced shots, they came to no end.
The first period was looking to end in a deadlock, but with two minutes left, a missed pass by the Predators was picked up by Chris Stewert. The 235-pound right wing intercepted the puck and broke toward the Nashville zone with the speed that Colorado has become known for this season.
Stewert jumped the puck over Francis Bullion's stick and passed to Cody McCleod who scored the only goal of the period.
The second period heated up quickly when Nashville found themselves with a 5-on-3 advantage after a holding call and an intentional out of play shot.
The Predators have scored five times with this advantage this season. They weren't as lucky tonight. After two face-offs that saw Colorado clear the puck, the Predators were limited to a passing clinic for the remainder of the advantage.
Just as the holding penalty expired, Nashville scored its first goal on a chip-in by Patric Hornqvist via a shot by Jason Aarnott at 6:46.
A minute later, Joel Ward tapped in the rebound from Jerred Smithson's shot on Anderson.
While the two goals had opened the play up for the Predators, Colorado would equalize via Matt Duchene. The shot came at 13:59 on a Colorado power play.
Nashville turned things around and scored 23 seconds later on an Aarnott shot from in front of the net at 14:22.
Hornqvist tallied again at 19:20 to pad the lead to 4-2. Fans started to throw their hats to the ice after this goal, because, once again, Hornqvist had deflected a shot from Aarnott. The fans thought that the Predators captain had achieved a hat trick until the PA announcer called the goal for Hornqvist.
The third period was a return to the slow play of the first period.
Steve Sullivan scored his 11th goal of the season at 10:31 on a Predators power play.
In the dying minutes, Colorado's Justin Mercier took a lucky bounce and quickly transitioned to score his first goal of the season and of his NHL career.
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