Smyth, Laperriere score in third period to lift Avalanche past Predators

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—From the opening faceoff it was apparent the first team to score was going to win.

Neither team scored until the third period, before the Ryan Smyth and Ian Laperriere led the Avalanche to a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

“I thought it was a very complete game,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was a heck of a battle. … I know there were a lot of scoring chances, but every time the puck was challenged. Every scrum was intense. The first goal was a big one.”

Smyth broke the scoreless tie at 4:58 of the third, firing a slap shot from outside of the left circle that went into the net and between the legs of Predators goalie Chris Mason.

“Obviously, getting a lead at that stage of the game was important to us,” Quenneville said. “We needed a road win.”

Laperriere scored from the front edge of the crease at 16:45.

“I just stayed in from of the net and Jaroslav Hlinka gave it to me there,” Laperriere said. “I just chipped it in. It was a heck of a play.”

Colorado goalie Peter Budaj came within 21 seconds of his first shutout of the season before Alexander Radulov beat him to the stick side from the middle of the slot. The Predators also had another close play in the closing seconds as J.P Dumont missed Jason Arnott with a pass as he stood in front of the net.

“It would have been nice to get a shutout, but the most important thing is that Nashville did not score a second goal” Budaj said. “I think they had a big chance right there at the end.”

Neither team scored in the first two periods as the Avalanche outshot the Predators 21-16.

“The puck just isn’t bouncing our way right now,” Nashville’s Vernon Fiddler said. “We have to keep moving forward and keep doing the things we’re doing and the puck will start finding the back of the net.”

It appeared that the Predators had scored at the 12:24 mark of the second period.

Radek Bonk sent a backhand into the crease that bounced off Budaj. Bonk shoveled the rebound between the pads of Budaj, but the goal was waved off because the play had been whistled dead. A video review confirmed the call.

“I’m going to have to get clarification on that,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “They said they were in the process of blowing the whistle, and I was told there was a push of the goalie. There are a number of different scenarios, but if you really look at it, the puck goes in there very quickly.

“Radek really had nothing to do with the goal other than putting the puck on the net. But they said they blew the whistle. I’m still not understanding the rule.”

Notes

Smyth’s goal ended a five-period scoreless streak for the Avalanche against the Predators and Mason this season. … Martin Erat, the Predators’ leader in points and assists missed the game with a neck injury. … The Predators and Avalanche face each other again in Denver on Saturday night. Scott Nichol will return to the Predators lineup Saturday after serving a five-game suspension.

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Three Stars

  Three Stars
P. Budaj
P. Budaj
Avalanche - G
Saves: 30
Save Pct.: .968
R. Smyth
R. Smyth
Avalanche - LW
Goals: 1
Assists: 0
C. Mason
C. Mason
Predators - G
Saves: 30
Save Pct.: .938

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Peter Budaj Wpg 31 30

Scoreboard

Thursday, Dec 13