Coming off an impressive blowout of the Washington Capitals, the Colorado Avalanche were looking to maintain a little momentum and try to string a couple wins together as they took to the road to take on the Nashville Predators, a team that had beaten them seven consecutive times coming into tonight.
The first period was marred with penalties and choppy play and the Avalanche were the beneficiaries of almost all of it as they saw 11 minutes on the power play, including a five-minute power play courtesy of Austin Watson’s illegal hit on Dominic Toninato, who was three shifts into his NHL career. The Avalanche set the tone of incompetence that would dog them the rest of the game as they not only failed to score on any of their power plays but failed to generate much in the way of scoring chances.
With the teams back to even strength, everyone knew any Colorado misstep would result in a penalty and forward Alexander Kerfoot was the first guy to make the mistake as he was called for Tripping near the end of the first period. As how it always goes for the Avs in Nashville, the Predators wasted no time capitalizing on the Colorado mistake and Craig Smith enjoyed the luxury of defensemen Mark Barberio and Andrei Mironov not feeling inclined to deal with rebounds as he easily deposited the free puck behind goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who did well to stop the initial shot. The 1-0 lead into the first intermission felt like a 10-0 lead given how the period had gone and just how terrible the Avs were.
The second period began with a little more of the same as the Predators tilted the ice Colorado’s way and the Avalanche struggled to mount much of a pushback. Have felt satisfied with their performance in the first, the officials decided the high-sticking that took Mikko Rantanen out behind the Colorado net was no big deal and Nashville took advantage of the injured player by playing keep away with the puck before Colton Sissons finally got bored with the shenanigans and scored to make it 2-0.
The Predators would wait just another minute before going back to the part where they score and Colorado feels bad about itself as this time defenseman Anthony Bitetto took advantage of Kerfoot’s wandering defense and blasted a shot from a few feet inside the blue line past Varlamov to make it 3-0 and essentially seal the game away. Colorado would get a few more power-play chances in the second but the offense stubbornly refused to revert back to the successful form that saw them score six goals just two days ago and carried the burden of a three-goal deficit into the third period.
The final frame of the game featured a continuation of the first two periods – Colorado gets a power play, doesn’t do anything with it, Nashville gets a power play and scores. This time around defenseman Mattias Ekholm was the guy getting in on the action to extend Colorado’s misery and put his team ahead 4-0. Instead of waiting for another power play goal against, the Predators turned a delayed call into a goal as Viktor Arvidsson deflected a P.K. Subban shot past Varlamov to make it 5-0.
Not everything in Avalanche-land was terrible as Andrei Mironov scored his first NHL goal late in the game to make it 5-1 and break the shutout bid by goaltender Pekka Rinne. Nikita Zadorov recorded the primary assist and Kerfoot notched the secondary. Now in their offensive rhythm, the Avs notched another one on a nice breakout by Mironov that led to a great play between Kerfoot and J.T. Compher, with Compher scoring on the backhand to make it 5-2 and bring the game to its final score.
1. Anthony Bitetto
2. Pekka Rinne
3. Craig Smith
Colorado failing to score at all in the first period despite 11 minutes of power play time and then taking any penalty at all. Kerfoot was the man with the mistake tonight and it gave Nashville its first power play and predictably the lead.
BY THE NUMBERS
Colorado returns to action tomorrow afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings at their new arena. Puck drop is 4 PM MT.