All the talk from the Colorado Avalanche heading into tonight's game against the visiting Nashville Predators focused on getting two points, tying for the playoff spot, and moving on to Chicago. A fired up Predators would come out early and strike first with newly-acquired Ryan Johansen scoring on the power play on his second shift. The 1-0 lead would come just 2:35 into the game.
Colorado would respond to the goal against with the burning fire of a thousand angry suns and begin pushing play towards Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne. The Avalanche would finally break through Rinne as Jarome Iginla would score career goal 601 through a myriad of bodies at the 14:50 mark.
Not satisfied with simply tying the game, Colorado's feisty fourth line would unhinge its jaw like a snake and swallow the Predators defense whole in a gorgeous two-man show between Jack Skille and Cody McLeod with McLeod getting the marker with just 2:15 remaining in the first period for the 2-1 lead.
Not to be outdone by their hosts, the Predators would open the second period with a thunderous response of their own. Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis would creep down the wall in the offensive zone and find himself alone with the puck, which he buried with perfection behind Colorado netminder Semyon Varlamov.
Unfortunately for Nashville, where there's thunder, there's usually Thor and in this case Thor look-a-like Gabriel Landeskog showed up for the Avalanche with a tip-in goal past a diving Rinne on a 2-on-1 with Carl Soderberg. While Predators forward Eric Nystrom did get a piece of the pass in an admirable back check, it wasn't enough to prevent the Avalanche from taking the 3-2 lead.
Not to be outdone by puny gods, the Predators would climb back into it as Filip Forsberg would beat Varlamov blocker-side to bring the game to an even 3-3 in the waning moments of the second period.
The third period would be an eventful, back and forth affair highlighted by a Tyson Barrie power play goal to push the Avs to a 4-3 lead. Despite a spirited attempt to another comeback, the Predators would be turned away and the wound salted with a Skille empty-net goal with two seconds remaining.
Tyson Barrie - game-winning goal
Jack Skille - 1 goal, 1 assist
Blake Comeau - 2 assists
PLAY OF THE GAME
In a tightly contested game like this one, we're definitely combining the play of the game and the turning point into one moment. Barrie's go-ahead goal would prove to be the game-winner and provide the Avalanche with the lead they would need to win their third consecutive game.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"It's a great group of guys and I'm really enjoying my time here in the room especially. When we play together like we did tonight it's a lot of fun" -Jack Skille
The Avalanche pulled themselves into a tie for fifth place in the Central Division as well as the final playoff spot. Because they have one more game played than Nashville, they're still on the outside looking in but the Avalanche are at least in the conversation right now. While maintaining their lead over Winnipeg is nice, Avs fans surely are more interested in now sitting just five points behind the Minnesota Wild.
The Avalanche take to the road but stay inside the Central Division as they head out to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks on Sunday, January 10. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:00 PM MST.