Cody McLeod made a positive impression on his new teammates and the Nashville Predators came back in the third period from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Colorado Avalanche on the road 3-2.
The Avalanche opted today for a new strategy. Coach Jared Bednar gathered everyone around the whiteboard before the game, drew some x’s and o’s with interconnecting post-modernist line art and said, “Hey, let’s try scoring first!” Initially everyone was confused; after all, it certainly wasn’t a tactic they were used to employing. But then captain Gabe Landeskog stood up with a big smile on his face and exclaimed, “Yeah, let’s try scoring first!”
To everyone’s surprise, the Avalanche executed the plan to perfection. Matt Nieto controlled the puck below the blue line, drew in a defender and dished the puck to an awaiting Landeskog. After shaking off his defender, he took a tough-angle shot at Predators goalie Pekka Rinne close-side skate and deflected it in to give Colorado an early 1-0 lead.
Then, during the second period, the Avalanche decided that they would score again—this time from a very unlikely source. Francois Beauchemin—he of just eight assists in 39 games—took a face-off puck won by Mikhail Grigorenko in the high slot and ripped a one-timer past Rinne to put the Avalanche up two goals to one. It was his first goal of the season, likely elevating his ostensibly existent trade value ever so slightly higher as trade season gets underway in earnest.
And then the thing happened that we ALL anticipated from the moment Cody McLeod was traded yesterday to today’s opponent. Yes, he would have to score a goal (if not a dozen) as it is written in the sacred text of Formerus Avarus. Harry Zolnierczyk (which sounds like a personal problem) skated the puck wide-left into the Avalanche zone and centered the puck through the slot. McLeod, in the process of crashing the net, was in perfect position for an easy tip-in, scoring his second goal of the season—his first in a Predators’ uniform.
Five minutes into the third period, Nashville would strike again, this time off the stick of Mike Fisher on a breakaway. Tyson Barrie got checked into the boards while pinching in and made a poor pass to a Predators’ defenseman. Two passes later and Fisher was off to the races, beating the helpless Fedor Tyutin and Jarome Iginla trying to cover and leaving Joe Colborne in the (ice) dust before beating goalie Semyon Varlamov stick-side to tie the game at two.
Then the Predators scored again, because that’s how this game was going to be properly disappointing. This one was right off a face-off in the Avalanche zone. Ryan Johansen won the puck—but barely. Then there seemed to be a miscommunication between the three Avalanche stacked up on the goal-side of the circle. Mikko Rantanen skated out to play the defenseman on the blue line and Tyson Barrie, well, didn’t cover anybody, let alone Filip Forsberg, who skated right in a scored to make it 3-2.
The Avalanche would get a number of excellent chances during the remainder of the period, including an instance where they put the puck in the net, only to quickly learn the goal line official had inadvertently blown his whistle too soon. The Predators would go on to win, bringing their record to 20-16-7 and sending the Avalanche to a still-last-place 13-27-1.