Martin Erat took sole possession of the team scoring lead with a goal and an assist as the Nashville Predators promptly got back to their winning ways with a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday at Denver.
The Predators had their six-game win streak snapped Tuesday against Vancouver but scored the first three goals in this one and outshot Colorado 34-29. They moved back into sixth place in the Western Conference standings, one point ahead of Anaheim.
With the victory, they also swept the season series — a first in their history with the Avalanche, who have lost 14 of their last 16. Nashville outscored Colorado 17-9 in this season’s four meetings.
Erat’s goal, his 16th of the season, gave Nashville a 3-0 lead with just over seven minutes to play in the contest. It turned out to be the game-winner and made it seven straight seasons that he has scored at least 16.
He came into the contest tied with Shea Weber for the team lead in points and got started with an assist on Colin Wilson’s 16th of the season, the first of the contest at 15:35 of the opening period.
Weber did not have a point.
Erat is the team’s second-leading scorer all-time but has never led the team in a single season.
The Avalanche closed with two goals in the final seven minutes, the second by defenseman John-Michael Liles with 1:02 remaining and the Colorado net empty.
The final horn sounded with Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne flat on his back in the crease and the puck beneath him. The Avalanche outshot the Predators 15-3 over the final period.
“They got that late one and made us work for those two points,” center Mike Fisher, who assisted on Erat’s goal, said. “… We got the win and that’s what we came for.”
Jordin Tootoo made it 2-0 when he redirected Cody Franson’s shot into the net with 9:40 to play in the second period.
Several minutes later Tootoo was knocked from the contest with an upper body injury. His status for the rest of the regular season and beyond was not immediately known.
Rinne stopped the first 22 shots he faced before he finally allowed a goal to Paul Stasny with 6:25 to go.
With the victory, Rinne improved to 31-21-8 on the season, one short of his career-high for victories set a year ago.