The Colorado Avalanche played the role of spoiler on Tuesday night in Denver. The Avs beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 despite being eliminated from the playoffs already.

The Predators (47-23-10) would have taken the lead in the Central Division had they won the contest. The Avalanche (37-31-12) are just playing for pride.

Forward Joey Hishon provided the heroics with the game-winning goal on his first career goal in the third period. The 23-year-old also went 6-for-6 in the faceoff circle, registered a plus-1 rating, blocked two shots, and had a takeaway in his 11th career game.

Colorado improved to 2-2-1 against Nashville in their fifth and final meeting of the season.

Avalanche forward Dennis Everberg injured his shoulder in the second period. Head coach Patrick Roy said he is likely done for the season. Hishon will be given an expanded opportunity in Everberg’s absence.

The Predators came out strong and caught the Avalanche sleeping early by registering the first nine shots of the game.

Calle Jarnkrok gave Nashville a 1-0 lead just 5:02 into the opening period with a blast from the slot off a pass form Matt Cullen.

Semyon Varlamov – who made 40 saves on the night – kept the game within one until the Avs’ offense sprung to life with two goals in a nine-second span in the second period.

Jarome Iginla scored first with his team leading 27th goal of the season on a one-timed blast off a Tyson Barrie pass. Ryan O’Reilly won the ensuing faceoff, then took a pass from Gabriel Landeskog as he broke into the zone and ripped a clapper past goaltender Pekka Rinne to give the Avs a 2-1 lead.

Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis evened the score again at 2-2 with a power play tally early in the third period. Ellis had previously left the game in the second period with what looked like a leg injury.

Hishon gave the Avalanche a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish with a beautiful goal at 7:06 of the closing period. He forced a turnover in the neutral zone and dangled around the Predators’ top defensive pair before sniping Rinne with a wrist shot for the game-winner.

“Our players deserve a lot of credit for that game tonight. Obviously we didn’t start the way we wanted,” coach Roy said. “After the second, I thought it was very entertaining for our fans. Our guys gave a great effort, played hard, and found ways to score the two goals and then take a lead.”

Nathan is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheRealNatron.

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