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Multi-goal efforts from Josi, Cullen not enough to propel Predators past Avalanche


Scoring more than three goals a game has been one of Nashville’s recipes of success over the past handful of years. This season for the Predators, what can go wrong will seemingly go wrong. Sacrificing leads of 2-0, 3-2, and 4-3, the Nashville Predators would squander two-goal nights from both Roman Josi and Matt Cullen, dropping a 5-4 decision to the Colorado Avalanche in a shootout.

“I think we played well, all game, especially tonight. The first couple of goals we kind of handed it to them. [Rinne] played really well, we just weren’t there for him at times. They’re a good team too, give them credit. They made some good plays and scored the goals and got back in the game,” said Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis. “It’s frustrating when we get up then down and up and down and then we go to a shootout and don’t get the point”

Just over three minutes into the first period, Predators defenseman Roman Josi would take a feed from Gabriel Bourque, firing it past Avalanche netminder Semyon Varlamov for a 1-0 lead. Josi would get his second of the night minutes later, as rookie Calle Jarnkrok set the Swiss defenseman up for another point shot that beat Varlamov with 10:11 remaining in the first.

Jarnkrok, who collected his third assist in three games, would finish the night with 15:09 time on ice, one assist, a +1, and Nashville’s lone shootout goal.

“He’s been playing really well. He’s got quick hands; he seems to have a little bit of confidence right now,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. “I think the guys appreciate how he’s come in and played quite well.”

“I’m impressed with his game. He’s a patient, poised guy with the puck,” said Predators forward Matt Cullen. “I’ve been very impressed that he’s put up some very good points here to start, and he’s been good for us.”

Nashville would concede a goal with 54 seconds remaining in the first period, as Gabriel Landeskog scored his first of two on the night on only Colorado’s second shot of the evening. The Predators would end up outshooting the Avalanche 13-3 after the first 20 minutes, with two of their three shots coming in the final minute of play.

“We jumped all over them. We really came out of the gates hard and maybe we caught them off guard,” said Ellis.

“I thought we did an excellent job doing everything we wanted to do offensively and defensively, and we gave up a late goal. We can’t give up those late goals; it’s been a little bit of a hindrance for us in the last little while here,” said Trotz.

Landeskog would tie the game 8:41 into the second period after a feed from Paul Stastny found Colorado’s captain all alone directly in front of Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. Yet, six minutes later, Predators forward Matt Cullen would re-take the lead for Nashville, poking home a centering pass from Ryan Ellis.

The third period would remain scoreless until Avalanche forward Cody McLeod would collect his own rebound with 7:35 remaining in regulation. At the time of the goal, there seemed to be a bit of controversy as Colorado defenseman Andre Benoit appeared to go offsides attempting to stop the puck on the blue line. With the keep-in, Benoit was able to feed the puck to McLeod who would tie the game at three.

In a span of 44 seconds late in regulation, Nashville and Colorado would both exchange markers. Predators forward Patric Hornqvist would collect a turnover at the Avalanche blue line and feed Cullen for his second goal of the night while Avalanche defenseman Nick Holden would tie the game at four on a seemingly harmless shot that squeaked past Rinne with 3:59 remaining.

“We kind of exchanged chances. They have a lot of skilled guys over there, so we have to make plays and minimize their chances as much as we can. Obviously tonight, we gave up too many. We did a good job offensively, but we have to lock it down defensively,” said Ellis.

After a scoreless overtime period, Nashville would be able to put only one puck behind Varlamov in the shootout, a skilled deke by Jarnkrok over the sprawled netminder. Unfortunately for the Predators, Duchene and Landeskog would both convert, giving the Avalanche the 5-4 win.

“It’s almost playoff time and teams are pushing for the final points of the season. We’re still battling here, obviously we wanted two [points] but we got one tonight,” said Ellis. “We got some big games coming up, I think nine left, it’s going to be important for us to finish it out hard. You never know, the Hockey Gods may be on our side.”