DENVER CO - JANUARY 20: Brandon Yip #18 of the Colorado Avalanche tries to collect the puck as Kevin Klein #8 and Shane O'Brien #55 hlep goalie Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators defend the goal at the Pepsi Center on January 20 2011 in Denver Colorado. Rinne had 32 saves as the Predators defeated the Avalanche 5-1. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Avalanche Vs. Predators: Nashville Downs Colorado, 3-2

Colorado has lost all three games against Nashville this season.

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Predators Defeat Colorado, 3-2, Despite Late Avs Goal

Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Martin Erat notched the game-winner late in the third period as Nashville hung on late to top Colorado, 3-2, at Pepsi Center.

Colin Wilson and Jordin Tootoo also scored for the Predators, who have won nine of their last 11 games to remain in the thick of the Western Conference standings.

Nashville vaulted over idle sixth-place Anaheim and is now tied with Los Angeles in fifth place with 94 points after the Kings lost in regulation at Vancouver.

Pekka Rinne made 27 stops for the win.

"We did not play well in the third. This was still a huge win for us, but we played smart earlier on to get this two points for us," the Finnish netminder admitted.

Paul Stastny and John-Michael Liles netted late scores for the Avalanche, who dropped their fourth straight game. Brian Elliott made 31 saves in defeat.

"We've already had some success on the road, seems like we play better there," said Avs forward Milan Hedjuk of the club's late-season slide in front of less than enthusiastic crowds. "I don't know what the explanation is. I realize what the attendance is, it's not what it used to be, it's our own fault."

Erat broke free up the middle with the Preds on the advantage and beat Elliott over the glove for a 3-0 contest with 7:08 left in regulation, and it was just enough to stave off a Colorado rally.

Stastny spoiled Rinne's shutout bid with 6:25 to play, then just as Elliott made it to the bench, Liles managed to put home a shot from the boards with 62 seconds left.

Rinne was forced to make only one more save as time wound down.

Wilson gave the Preds a lead with 4:25 left in the first period when he lifted a backhander home from the slot.

It was 2-0 for the visitors at 10:20 of the second after Tootoo deflected a Cody Franson shot from the right side.

Game Notes

Nashville swept all four games in the season series and has taken seven of the last eight meetings with Colorado over the last two years.


Avalanche Vs. Predators: Colorado Returns To Pepsi Center

(Sports Network) - Coming off their first loss in seven games, the Nashville Predators aim for their first season-series sweep of the Colorado Avalanche this evening at the Pepsi Center.

The Preds carried a season high-tying six-game win streak into the Tuesday's meeting with the visiting Canucks, but lost a 3-1 decision as Vancouver locked up the top seed in the Western Conference.

Mike Fisher scored the lone goal, his third in two games after going 17 in a row without a marker, and Pekka Rinne made 29 saves for the Predators, who lost for the second time in 10 games in the finale of a four-game homestand.

"It was just one game but all of them are big," said Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum. "We had a good run and you can't win them all. We just have to go back out and play hard in Colorado on Thursday."

The loss was ill-timed as it has the Predators seventh overall in the West, one point back of the Ducks and two behind the fifth-place Kings with five games to play. Los Angeles, though, has a game in hand, while Anaheim also has five contests left.

Despite the run, Nashville also has little chance of catching Detroit for first place in the Central Division, The Red Wings are six up with five to play.

Rinne is 6-3-0 with a 2.55 goals-against average and has been in net for all three of the Preds' victories over the Avalanche this season. Nashville posted a 5-1 victory at Colorado on Jan. 20 for its second win in its last three trips there. The Preds have since won two games at home to run their overall series winning streak to four straight with victories in six of the past seven meetings overall.

Colorado will look to avoid getting swept by Nashville in the season series for the first time and pick up just its fourth win in its past 27 games. The Avalanche lost a third straight outing and fell to 3-21-2 since Jan. 26 with Monday's 5-4 defeat in Anaheim.

Goals by Ryan O'Reilly and Matt Duchene in the first period put the Avalanche up early, but Anaheim got its first tally on a penalty shot early in the second when defenseman John-Michael Liles covered the puck in the crease and hardly looked back.

"The penalty shot was big. It changed the momentum of the game," said Colorado head coach Joe Sacco.

Brian Elliott gave up all five Anaheim goals on 42 shots.

Colorado aims to avoid its 10th loss in its last 11 at home tonight and will start Elliott again tonight. He halted 25-of-26 shots faced in his only other career start against the Predators on Dec. 23 while with the Senators.

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