Predators, Avs meet in matchup of two of NHL’s hottest teams
The last time the Colorado Avalanche visited Nashville, they got some unplanned time off after falling to the Predators.
It is also the last time the Avalanche have lost in regulation, and they carry a five-game winning streak into Nashville on Tuesday night.
Colorado has also won a franchise record 12 straight at home.
Tuesday was supposed to be a matchup of the NHL’s top two stars from last week, but Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, who took the top honors, went into the health and safety protocol before Monday’s 4-3 win against Seattle. Landeskog had seven points in three games and four goals in the last two, including a hat trick against Winnipeg on Thursday.
The second star was Predators goaltender Juuse Saros, who went 3-0-0 last week and stopped 125 of 131 shots he faced.
“I think there is no better goalie in the world (right now) than him,” teammate Roman Josi said after Saturday’s 4-2 win at Arizona. “Every night he’s giving us a chance to win. It’s kind of unbelievable how consistent he is. I think it’s almost underappreciated.”
Nashville beat the Coyotes without Filip Forsberg, who entered COVID-19 protocol before the game, and continued its strong play of late. The Predators are 12-2-1 since Nov. 27 to surge to the top of the Central Division standings.
Nashville has benefitted from a balanced scoring attack as well as good goaltending. Six players have 22 or more points, and five of them have 10 or more goals.
Josi leads the team with 34 points.
Colorado’s only loss since Dec. 4 came in Nashville on Dec. 16. The Avalanche had several players enter health and safety protocol before the game but had enough roster players available to play it.
After that 5-2 loss, Colorado had its next seven games postponed and then came out of the pause to win five in a row.
The Avalanche have been rolling since early November, and a big part of that is the top line of Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. They combined for 12 points in a win over Winnipeg last week and seven more in a comeback win over Toronto on Saturday night.
“There is some natural chemistry there, but I think a lot of work goes into that between those three guys, as well,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “There’s a lot of communication within the game, in between periods, after games. So for me, that chemistry is something that’s built over the years.”
The Avalanche have to adjust with Landeskog out. Monday night Andre Burakovsky moved up from the second line to join Rantanen and MacKinnon against the Kraken and finished with two assists.
Other players have also stepped up to fill voids for injured teammates and those out due to COVID-19 issues. Nicolas Aube-Kubel had two goals Monday night, and Devon Toews has a goal in each of the last two games.
Colorado has also shown resiliency by rallying in every game during the winning streak. On Monday, Seattle took a 3-1 lead before the Avalanche rallied to win it on Nazem Kadri’s goal late in the third period.
–Field Level Media