Colorado Avalanche dominate the Nashville Predators, extend winning streak to four

Phillip Grubauer. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports.
Phillip Grubauer. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports.

After Colorado’s most recent eight-game slide, the Avalanche have responded by coming out and beating some of the toughest teams in the league, including three central division rivals in the last week.

The Avs dominated Winnipeg at home on Wednesday night, before defeating the Blackhawks in Chicago on Friday. On Saturday afternoon, Colorado increased its winning streak to four with a 5-0 victory over the Predators in Nashville.

The team has recently found everything it lacked during the eight-game winless stretch, such as goal contributions across the lineup and quality goaltending. Both were present for the Avalanche on Saturday, as Colorado was able to top its biggest division foe in dramatic fashion.
Due to the game being the second of a back-to-back set, Philipp Grubauer made his first start in net since February 5. After going 0-3 with 16 goals allowed in his last three starts, the young goaltender was phenomenal on Saturday. Grubauer stopped 38 shots he faced and recorded his first shutout in an Avs uniform.
Across the ice from Grubauer stood Pekka Rinne, who is traditionally a major obstacle for the Avalanche’ goal production. Colorado had one of those rare outings where they were able to crack Rinne’s code on Saturday though.
It all started with Nathan MacKinnon scoring his 31st of the year early in the first period. The shot was a rocket of a one-timer off of assists from Nikita Zadorov and Alex Kerfoot and the Avs had the highly coveted first lead of the game.
MacKinnon wasn’t done contributing to the score sheet as he and Mikko Rantanen added assists on an Alex Kerfoot power-play goal 14:41 into the second period. Kerfoot’s eleventh goal of the season came from a juicy rebound that he slammed home on an open net giving his team the breath of fresh air that comes with a two-goal lead on the road.
Before the period could end the Avalanche added another goal that deflated the Nashville Predators, who were visibly frustrated with the way the game had gone. During four-on-four play, a Nashville turnover in Colorado’s end turned into a two-on-one for Gabe Landeskog and Sam Girard. A great display of patience and a ticky-tack play ended with Landeskog’s 33rd goal of the year and a solid 3-0 Avalanche lead.
The first half of the third period Played out without much action but Nash Ville certainly took over momentum as the score effects kicked in and ultimately won the games shot count by a total of 21-38.
Despite the shot count, the Avalanche power play took advantage of another opportunity late in the third when Nathan MacKinnon added his second goal of the game which looked almost identical to his first. The biggest difference between the two goals was the first opened up the game’s scoring and his second was the nail in Nashville’s proverbial coffin for the evening.
Nikita Zadorov put salt in the wound an made it a 5-0 game late with a powerful slap shot from the point that Pekka Rinne simply couldn’t stop.
As the avalanche were up against all odds facing their nemesis the Nashville Predators, on the second night of a back to back, and on the road, the three facets that have recently hurt them the most showed up on a big way. The goaltending, the goal scoring, and the special teams all contributed to help Colorado in one of the most important wins of the season.
The victory against the Predators gets the Avalanche back in the playoff mix as they prepare for a much lighter load in the schedule ahead.
Up next for the Avalanche will be a return to Pepsi Center to face the Florida Panthers for the second and final time this season.
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