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Avs grind out shootout win vs. Predators

The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If the Colorado Avalanche gain home ice for the first round of the NHL playoffs, they might look back on Tuesday night as the difference.

Completely dominated for the first 25 minutes, Colorado was outshot and never played with the lead, yet still left Bridgestone Arena with its NHL-best 24th one-goal win as it outlasted the Nashville Predators 5-4 in a shootout.

Left winger Gabriel Landeskog dug the Avalanche (45-21-6) out of their early hole with two goals, then supplied the game-winner on the last attempt of the shootout, ripping a forehand past goaltender Pekka Rinne.

"It's just like for any team; it's important," Landeskog said of earning home ice. "We want to play in Denver because we feed off our crowd. We're obviously trying to win every game and earn as many points as possible, and we'll see where it takes us in the end."

In snapping a three-game losing streak, Colorado stayed in fifth place in the Western Conference, three points behind Chicago and Anaheim. It did so the hard way, nearly getting run out of the building in the first period and overcoming three deficits.

Goalie Semyon Varlamov (35-14-5) came up huge for the Avalanche, notching 29 saves, many on point-blank chances that Nashville created with consistent puck possession.

"It could have easily been 3- or 4-nothing before we scored," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "We could have been out of the game before the first period was over. I don't know how he made some of the saves he made on those tips."

Defenseman Roman Josi got Nashville (31-31-11) off to a flying start with his 10th and 11th goals in the game's first 10 minutes.

Josi bounced a slap shot from the left point past Varlamov at 3:33, then scored on a wrist shot from just inside the blue line at 9:49 as left winger Gabriel Bourque screened Varlamov.

Rookie center Calle Jarnkrok, acquired from Detroit on March 5 for veteran center David Legwand, drew the assist on Josi's second goal. It was Jarnkrok's third helper in as many games.

Colorado was outshot 13-3 in the period, but took momentum into the locker room when Landeskog beat Rinne with a wrister at 19:06, thanks to a nice set-up from behind the net by center Paul Stastny.

Landeskog tied it at 2 at 8:41 of the second period with a one-timer courtesy of Stastny, his 23rd of the season. But the Predators regained the lead when center Matt Cullen lofted a short wrister over Varlamov's stick at 14:43 of the second.

Avalanche left winger Cody McLeod tied it at 3 at 12:25 of the third period, shoveling home a rebound for his fourth goal. It capped a stretch where Colorado dominated play, firing 12 shots at Rinne in just over 12 minutes.

However, Cullen restored a one-goal edge for Nashville when he deflected a centering pass from right winger Patric Hornqvist past Varlamov for his second of the evening and ninth of the season.

That lead lasted 44 seconds, long enough for defenseman Nick Holden to steam down the left wing and beat Rinne with a low wrister to the stick side. It was Holden's ninth goal.

"I came forward with a lot of speed and their (defensemen) were flatfooted with a forward coming," Holden said. "I fired it at him and I think it went off a (defenseman's) stick. He (Rinne) came off the post and it went short-side on him."

The Predators failed on a late power play after Holden high-sticked Hornqvist at 17:49 of the third, then were denied a potential game-winner when Varlamov turned away a booming slapper by defenseman Shea Weber with five seconds left in overtime.

Nashville fell to 1-8 in shootouts and lost six straight at home since a 3-2 triumph over Tampa Bay on Feb. 27.

"It used to be pretty hard for teams to come in here and lock down a win," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We've been playing pretty well on the road. Now we just have to learn how to win at home."

Rinne (7-9-2) notched 24 saves.

NOTES: Colorado C Ryan O'Reilly is the only NHL player who has not been penalized this season. O'Reilly is attempting to become the first player in 33 years -- since Butch Goring of the 1980-81 New York Islanders -- to play penalty-free hockey for 60 or more games. ... Nashville D Seth Jones missed his first game of the season after sustaining an upper-body injury on Sunday night in Chicago. D Michael Del Zotto, a healthy scratch in two of the last three games, took his place. ... Avalanche RW PA Parenteau (knee) missed his seventh straight game and might be out until the playoffs start in April. ... Predators C Paul Gaustad missed his third consecutive game with a lower-body injury suffered in a loss last Wednesday night at Vancouver.

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