In what might have been a playoff series preview Friday night, Nashville forwards Colton Sissons and Filip Forsberg each scored twice to lead the Western Conference-leading Predators to a 4-2 victory over the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.
The rare loss at home put an end to Colorado’s nine-game points streak (6-0-3), and extended the Preds’ winning streak over the Avs to 10, including six straight in Denver. Both teams played on the road Thursday night, with Nashville winning at Arizona and the Avs triumphant at St. Louis.
The Avs, who remain in a wild-card playoff spot with 11 remaining games, entered the game having gone 14-1-1 in their last 16 at the Pepsi Center. They conclude their two-game homestand Sunday afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings in yet another big game at home.
“They’re all going to be big now,” Colorado captain Gabe Landeskog said. “It’s the best time of year, other than the playoffs. It’s exciting. We’re coming to the rink real excited every day and just itching to play. Tonight, I felt we ran out of gas a little bit even though I really liked our effort.”
Forsberg scored an empty-net goal with 1:09 remaining in the third period, after Colorado failed to capitalize on consecutive power plays. The Avs finished 0-of-4 with the man-advantage.
“Our power play, it just felt like we were a step behind tonight,” said Landeskog, who scored the Avs’ second goal for a 2-1 lead early in the second period. “The ones we had there in the third, I thought we got some good looks. Nate (MacKinnon) had a shot, and Josty (Tyson Jost) had a rebound but it went off his knob. We we’re close, but it just wasn’t clicking the way we wanted.”
Avs coach Jared Bednar is giving his tired team the day off Saturday.
“I thought we were really competitive tonight,” the coach said. “We played hard in most all areas. We took the lead there, 2-1, and had a couple chances shortly after that to maybe stretch that out. But I thought (goalie Juuse) Saros (33 saves) was good in net and we missed on some opportunities … But I gotta be happy with the effort from our team, for sure.”
Nashville took a 3-2 lead into the third period, after briefly trailing 2-1. The Avs took their only lead at 3:28 of the second period, when Landeskog came off the bench to cap a dominating shift by the fourth line. Landeskog changed for Alex Kerfoot and swatted in a loose puck in the paint, giving Colorado a 2-1 lead.
But the Preds answered at 6:28, getting a “dirty” goal of their own in the paint. Forsberg cashed in on a rebound off the crossbar and it was again tied. That changed at 13:39, when Sissons one-timed Ryan Hartman’s feed from the right circle past goalie Semyon Varlamov. It was Sissons’ second goal of the game and ninth of the season.
Sissons scored the first goal of the game at 17:26 of the first period. But the Avs’ MacKinnon answered with his 36th goal of the season at 19:01 to tie it up. MacKinnon’s 36 goals is the most by an Avalanche player since Joe Sakic had 36 in 82 games in 2006-07.
MacKinnon played in his 63rd game Friday; he missed eight because of injury.