Preview: Predators at Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche are struggling with two of their three best players out indefinitely and will try to stop the sliding when they host the Nashville Predators on Thursday. Colorado lost its fifth straight game - the last four with captain Gabe Landeskog out of the lineup - 4-1 at Dallas on Tuesday, and is 1-4-1 without Mikko Rantanen.
“We had a pretty good start to the year (7-0-1),'' Avalanche coach Jared Bednar told reporters. "We liked it. We liked the results we were getting. Now it seems we’ve taken a step back in a lot of different areas, so we have to put our nose to the grindstone here a little bit and dig through it. It’s not going to be easy, but I still think we’re seeing some positive signs. But it just seems like now we’re squeezing our sticks a little bit.” Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon is feeling the effects of playing without his No. 1 linemates - the trio combined for 40.6 percent of the team's goals last season - as he's missed the scoresheet in the last two contests after starting the campaign on a 13-game point streak. Nashville started a four-game road trip that also takes it to San Jose and Vancouver by snapping a two-game slide with a 6-1 victory over Detroit on Monday. "This trip is 11 or 12 days, and when you are on the road for that long, you want to be successful,'' Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters. "Now we've gotten the first one, which is big, and we've got a few days before we play in Colorado. We can get in a good, solid practice and be ready to play well against the (Avalanche)."
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FS Tennessee (Nashville), Altitude (Colorado)
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (9-4-2): Nick Bonino leads Nashville with eight goals after scoring one of the club's five in the second period versus Detroit. Matt Duchene doubled his season total with two goals Monday while defenseman Roman Josi had two assists to take over the team lead in points with 16. Pekka Rinne (8-0-2, 2.07 goals-against average, .923 save percentage) extended his club record by recording a point in each of his first 10 games to start a season with 23 saves against the Red Wings and is 25-9-2, 2.31, .914 in 39 games (37 starts) versus the Avalanche.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (8-5-2): MacKinnon, the 2019 Hart Trophy runner-up, leads the club with eight goals and 18 points. First-year Colorado players Nazem Kadri and Joonas Donskoi (five goals apiece) were elevated to the top line and also went pointless in the last two games. Philipp Grubauer (6-3-2, 2.80, .915) allowed four goals three times this season - twice in the last three contests - and is 1-2-0, 2.45, .918 in four games (three starts) against the Predators.
1. Nashville D Mattias Ekholm (nine points) and Ryan Ellis (15) are among the league leaders in plus-minus rating at plus-11 and 10, respectively.
2. Colorado is 1-for-19 on the power play in its last four games after going 0-for-8 versus Dallas while the Predators are 3-for-9 with the extra man in their last two contests and 20-for-21 on the penalty kill in the past seven games.
3. The clubs split four meetings last season with the road team winning each time.
PREDICTION: Predators 3, Avalanche 2