Predators beat Avalanche 5-2
The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Shea Weber saw defense partner Roman Josi get knocked over, and the Nashville captain started swinging away at Colorado counterpart Gabriel Landeskog.
The fight cost Weber 17 minutes in the penalty box.
His teammates made sure that was all the Predators lost.
Calle Jarnkrok, Craig Smith, Josi and Filip Forsberg scored to help the Predators beat the Avalanche 5-2 Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game homestand.
“That was awesome,” Josi, with a bloody lip, said of Weber’s fight. “He’s our leader. He leads off the ice, on the ice and every aspect. You couldn’t ask for a better captain.”
Weber, who has two Olympic gold medals, couldn’t remember being in the penalty box that long. He made up for his lost minutes with a team-high nine shots in the ice time he did have.
“I don’t want to do that again,” Weber said. “Obviously stick up for any of my teammates at any point, but hopefully don’t have to sit for half a game.”
Pekka Rinne made 18 saves in his NHL-best 35th win, and the Predators padded their lead atop the NHL standings with 89 points — six ahead of Montreal and Anaheim. Nashville also clinched the season series with its Central Division rival at 3-1 with a game remaining.
Nathan MacKinnon and John Mitchell scored for Colorado, which had won two in a row.
Semyon Varlamov started his 17th straight game, but the Avalanche goalie didn’t finish. He was replaced by Reto Berra after giving up four goals on 29 shots.
“It’s a frustrating loss for us, for sure,” Varlamov said. “Because right now we’re fighting for a playoff spot, so that was an important game for us.”
Colorado coach Patrick Roy pulled Berra during a power play, and Eric Nystrom scored short-handed into an empty net at 8:28 of the third period to make it 5-1.
“They are the best team in the NHL right now, and that’s what they did,” Roy said.
The Predators just went 1-1-1 on a road swing and required a shootout for that lone win at Buffalo on Sunday. A return to home ice was all they needed to pick up their play as they improved to a league-best 26-3-1 at home.
Colorado came in having won four of five, with the Avalanche scoring 19 goals in that span. MacKinnon, who had his first career hat trick Sunday in a win over Tampa Bay, scored at 3:57 on a slap shot for a 1-0 lead and his 100th career point.
Nashville answered 16 seconds later as Jarnkrok got the puck off a faceoff and took off on a breakaway, beating Varlamov with a wrister for his sixth goal this season.
Weber took exception to Landeskog leveling Josi at 13:01 and beat teammate Paul Gaustad to a fight that featured several big punches. Weber wound up with an instigator penalty, a fighting major and a game misconduct.
“I, and I would think everybody else in our room, think it was a strong move by our captain,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “Roman got steamrolled there.”
Smith put Nashville ahead to stay with a slap shot from the right circle that beat Varlamov just under his stick hand for a 2-1 lead at 4:32 of the second. Josi made it 3-1 at 11:06 when he flipped a wrister from the blue line that hit off the right post and into the net for his 11th goal of the season.
The Predators scored again on Forsberg’s slap shot 54 seconds into the third when he got the puck off a faceoff, spun and fired. Nystrom padded the lead with Smith in the penalty box for high-sticking, and Roy sent Berra back onto the ice.
Colorado managed a power-play goal when Mitchell scored from in front with 1:19 left.
NOTES: Nashville is 26-6-2 when outshooting an opponent, tops in the NHL. … Jarnkrok’s goal was his first in 19 games. … Smith has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his last six games. … MacKinnon has at least a point in six of his last seven games (four goals, four assists). … Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly has six points in his last six games, all on assists. … Varlamov tied Mario Gosselin for fourth on Colorado’s games played list at 190.
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