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The Avalanche walked into this game in Nashville off a horrific homestand having earned only one point. Adding insult to injury, the defense was without Erik Johnson, who was lost to a broken fibula in the game against Dallas on Saturday. To say this was a must-win tilt would be an understatement, and it’s not because of standings or points or record. This was a statement game, one which could tell the fans and league that the Colorado Avalanche has not rolled over in defeat less than halfway through the season. While the team played well and matched Nashville nearly goal for goal, penalties and bad luck saw them end on the losing side of a 4-3 final score.
As has often happened this season, the Avalanche found themselves on the wrong end of the first goal of the game. Nashville’s leading scorer Viktor Arvidsson broke free from the defensive zone and raced down the ice on a breakaway, beating Semyon Varlamov cleanly for a 1-0 lead halfway through the first period. Unlike many games this season, however, Colorado immediately answered back. The play started with Rene Bourque hounding the Nashville defenseman until he coughed up the puck to Nathan MacKinnon who was positioned just to the right of the crease to tap home the tying goal.
After a successful penalty kill and some of the best defense seen from Nikita Zadorov all season, James Neal put the Predators back on top with a bad angle shot from the bottom of the circle. The final 1:34 ticked off the clock, sending the teams to the locker rooms with Nashville on top 2-1.
The Avalanche got a power play just a few minutes into the second period, and Matt Duchene tapped a loose puck toward the net. The buck bounced off a Predator or two and barely across the line. The referee initially called it a no-goal, but video review confirmed that it was good, tying the teams at two. The tie didn’t last long, however, as PK Subban sent a shot on net from the point which, unfortunately, careened off Eric Gelinas’s stick. The redirected puck slipped over the shoulder of Varlamov to restore the Predators’s one-goal lead.
With just over six minutes left in the second period, Duchene hit it again with a tap in that came off a rebound from Jarome Iginla’s one timer point shot. The second period closed with a 3-3 score and the Predators on a 5-on-3 power play.
Shortly before the penalties expired in the early minutes of the third period, Roman Josi put the Predators ahead for the fourth time in the evening with a power play goal, upping the score to 4-3 Nashville. After two periods of multiple goals per twenty minutes, the rest of the third period ticked away with neither team hitting the back of the net again, sending the Avalanche away with yet another loss on the season.
1. Roman Josi – GWG
2. Matt Duchene – 2g
3. Mike Ribeiro – 2a
PLAY OF THE GAME
While the Avalanche did score a trio of goals, the breakaway of Viktor Arvidsson in the first period was too impressive to not tap for the Play of the Game.
The Avalanche were staying with the Predators throughout the game and even looked poised to take the lead. However, the five-on-three penalty kill proved too much for Colorado, and the team would not negate that go-ahead goal.
BY THE NUMBERS
Colorado heads to Boston to continue its road trip against the Bruins on Thursday, December 8th with an early 5 pm MT start.