After a big win Saturday afternoon against the Los Angeles Kings, the Colorado Avalanche took to the ice at the Pepsi center looking to string together consecutive victories for the first time in a long while. That wouldn’t happen as Pekka Rinne hold off an onslaught of Avalanche pressure long enough for Nick Bonino to open the scoring early in the second period.
Colorado couldn’t figure out the star goaltender all night and dropped this one 4-1 despite out-shooting Nashville 36-27.
After missing the third period of Saturday’s game, Mikko Rantanen was on the ice to start this one against the Preds and he didn't miss a beat. Colorado’s top two lines was flying early and if it weren’t for some incredible play by Rinne, the Avs could have easily had two or three goals in the first 10 minutes.
The shot attempts 15-1 midway through the first period but the Avalanche were unable to capitalize on a couple of power plays. To a man, the Avalanche looked to be the better team through the first 20 minutes. Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov looked great filling a bigger role than usual with Erik Johnson out of the lineup.
TB4 has been on fire pic.twitter.com/D0SLwla0X9— Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) January 21, 2019
The Predators came to life a little in the second half of the period, but the Avalanche thoroughly outplayed their division rival, out-shooting Nashville 13-7 before the first intermission.
While neither team scored, this period was incredibly physical - highlighted by a huge hit from Zadorov on Freddy Gaudreau followed by a fight with Austin Watson. These two teams are starting to build a real rivalry and it let to a lot of chippy play and more scrums after the whistle than you’ll usually see in a regular season game.
The Avalanche started the second period by killing back to back penalties as Tyson Barrie went to the box at the end of the first followed by Nikita Zadorov taking a bad kneeing penalty a few seconds after the team killed off the first. Late in the Zadorov penalty, Matt Nieto broke free and was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked on his way to the net. He wasn’t able to convert and is now 0-3 on penalty shots in his career.
Unfortunately, the Avs were able to build on the great shorthanded play as Nick Bonino scored his 13th of the season five minutes into the period. It was a bad goal that Semyon Varlamov absolutely needs to save - especially in a game where his teammates are doing well to outplay the opposition.
Less than two minutes later, Viktor Arvidsson doubled the Nashville lead as he was able to burn past Ian Cole and tuck the puck in behind Varlamov on a beautiful wrap around. Despite being the better team, the Avalanche were now down 2-0 at the midway point of the game.
The Avalanche continued to apply pressure and finally broke the shutout as Alex Kerfoot scored his ninth of the season to cut the lead in half.
Unfortunately, the two-goal lead was restored a little more than a minute later as Roman Josi crept in past Mark Barberio and buried a cross-ice pass to make the score 3-1 going into the second intermission.
Early in the period, J.T. Compher had a tremendous scoring chance as he came flying out of the penalty box - he sent the puck wide, but it looked like the Avalanche were ready to put on the pressure for the final 20 minutes.
Colorado looked like a team that wasn’t content to lose on home ice, but the 2018 Vezina Trophy winner had other plans. Pekka Rinne continued to be outstanding in the third as the Avs continued to outplay Nashville but simply couldn’t get another pick past the big netminder.
Rinne was able to hold off the pressure long enough for Ryan Ellis to find an empty net to solidify a 4-1 victory for the Predators.
The Avalanche played really well and deserved a better fate. Rinne was great, Varlamov wasn’t. The story of the Avs these days. Rinne finished with 35 saves to record his 25th career victory over the Avalanche.
Colorado has one more game against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday before an extended nine-day break for the All Star game and bye week.