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Blown call helps Avalanche beat Predators

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DENVER - Matt Duchene was expecting a whistle, but when one didn't come, he kept playing.

It proved to be the difference for the struggling Colorado Avalanche.

Duchene had two assists and scored a goal on a missed offside, and the Avalanche held off the Nashville Predators 6-5 on Monday.

Aaron Palushaj also had a goal and two assists, Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist for Colorado, which won for just the second time in six games.

"We needed a win desperately," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said.

The Avalanche got it in a desperate way - and with a little help from the linesmen during a wild second period when the teams combined to score seven goals.

Leading 2-1 early in the frame, Duchene scored when he went into the Predators' zone ahead of the puck. Nashville's Craig Smith and Scott Hannan were in the neutral zone when the puck bounced off one of them and right to the Avalanche center.

Duchene, hearing no whistle for offsides, reached back for the puck and beat a surprised Steve Mason high to give Colorado a 3-1 lead.

"I don't understand that call at all," Hannan said.

Neither did Duchene but he wasn't apologetic.

"I was 100 percent offside, but the ruling was that Nashville brought the puck back in," Duchene said. "Even after I shot it, I thought I missed something. It might have been a good call by the linesman. From what I've heard it wasn't, but we're going to take that every day of the week."

Nashville coach Barry Trotz said the NHL acknowledged the linesmen blew the call.

"The league already verified it that it should have been an offside. The explanation from the crew here, unfortunately, was wrong," he said. "They said that we passed it back; we didn't pass it back. That's why they didn't blow the whistle. It's just one of those things. Everybody has a bad day."

Trotz can include his goalie among those having a bad day. Mason allowed six goals on 18 shots and was pulled after Colorado took a three-goal lead late in the second period.

After Duchene's goal, the Predators tried to get back into the game, but the Avalanche (6-7-1) responded each time. Mike Fisher scored midway through the second, but Chuck Kobasew answered 50 seconds later. Twenty-nine seconds after Colin Wilson scored on a breakaway, Stastny and Jamie McGinn scored 13 seconds apart to make it 6-3.

"I just didn't make saves when I needed to make saves," Mason said. "They came hard to the net and they really work hard. They're a good offensive team and they caught us a little off guard the first part of the game."

Pekke Rinne replaced Mason, but the three-goal deficit was too much for the Predators to overcome despite getting two points each from Wilson, Shea Weber, Jonathon Blum and Sergei Kostitsyn.

Blum cut it to 6-4 with an unassisted goal with 50 seconds left in the second. It stayed that way until Rinne went off for an extra skater with 2:03 left and Weber scored at 18:42.

Rinne stayed on the bench, but the Predators couldn't get the equalizer.

"It was a crazy game," Sacco said. "It was entertaining for the fans, not so much for the coaches."

Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov had 33 saves, including 16 in the third period.

"Give us credit, we stuck with it. I felt we should have had a point," Trotz said. "The scoring chances were pretty lopsided in the third period; they were about 15-1."

Palushaj and Tyson Barrie scored in the first period to give Colorado a 2-0 lead before Kostitsyn scored a power-play goal to make it 2-1 heading into the second.

The Predators (7-4-5) played most of the game without center Paul Gaustad. He left the game after playing two shifts with an upper body injury.

Notes: Barrie's goal was the first by an Avalanche defenseman this season. ... Duchene has scored a goal in four straight games. ... Wilson has a point in four straight games. ... The power-play goal Colorado allowed in the first period was just the second in 29 chances at home. The Avalanche killed off the first 20 penalties at home before Anaheim scored one. ... Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist was activated from the injured list and played his first game since sustaining a knee sprain Jan. 26. He missed 10 games. ... Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson missed his third straight game with a head injury in the third period of a loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 11. He is out indefinitely. ... Defenseman Shane O'Brien was scratched. Stefan Elliott, recalled from Lake Erie of the AHL on Sunday, was in the lineup.
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