Few losses are as disappointing as those that give up a late-game lead. The Avalanche continued a recent stretch of awful 3rd Period play -- giving up the tying goal, the go-ahead goal, and then two empty-netters for good measure -- losing to a streaking Nashville team that now appears safely out in front in the playoff standings.
The Avalanche cracked the scoreboard first. Shawn Matthias, fighting behind the Predators' net, gained control of the puck slid it over to Carl Soderberg along the boards. After seeing Blake Comeau posted up near Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, Soderberg fired it in his general vicinity, and watched him clean up the rebound with a diving backhand (Video).
The Predators would even up the score late in the 2nd Period. Nick Holden, attempting a backhand pass behind his net, failed to get any momentum on the puck and turned it over to Nashville's Craig Smith. One centering pass out in front of the net later, and Filip Forsberg had his 28th goal on the season (Video).
Gabriel Landeskog, however, would get Colorado back on top before time ran out. Nathan MacKinnon skated into Nashville's zone and pulled up at the circle. Mikkel Boedker, not far behind, skated hard toward the goal and drew the entire defense low, leaving a wide-open slap shot attempt for Landeskog, who fired it home for his 17th on the season (Video).
At this point, the Avs were playing pretty well and had a one-goal lead, but an improbable Predators goal early in the 3rd Period derailed what looked like a viable chance to gain two points in the standings. Ryan Johanson stole a poor Nathan MacKinnon pass to the point and skated up ice in plenty of traffic, managing to maintain possession of the puck under quite a bit of defensive pressure. After finally getting check out of the play by Francois Beauchemin, James Neal skated through back-checking MacKinnon and Erik Johnson to poke the puck in the net and tie it up again (Video).
Nashville took its first lead with 9:44 remaining when Matthias Ekholm fired a slap-shot from the top circle that rebounded dangerously into the slot to Mike Fisher who made quick work of the loose puck (Video). Colorado would try repeatedly to tie it back up, even pulling their goalie with a little more than two minutes remaining, but only the Predators would find the net -- twice.
The game ended 5-2, a score that gives little indication to how the game played, dropping the Avalanche to 33-30-4 on the year.
- Matt Duchene - It's hard to play as well as he did without registering a single point, yet that's what happened today. Duchene was all over the ice, skating through defenses, setting up linemates, and ringing wrist shots off the post. He even gave Roman Josi one of the harder checks he's received all year. Duchene deserved better.
- Blake Comeau - Scored the team's first goal tonight and managed six other shots-on-net throughout the game. Combine that with his physical game and work on the faceoff dot, and it's pretty easy to say it was one of his better games in a Colorado uniform.
- The 4th Line - Hard to single just one of these guys out, because they all played really well today. Jack Skille continues to make tough plays to skate the puck up ice and John Mitchell generated a couple of great chances tonight all on his own. This unit will beat most bottom-six matchups. It's one advantage the team has.
- The 3rd Period - The final frame continues to be a difficult chore for this team. If they're not giving up a gajillion shots like they did on Thursday, then they're making bad turnovers like they did tonight. If the Avs have playoff ambitions, then they're going to need to be tougher for sixty whole minutes.