Predators-Avalanche Preview

The Nashville Predators have had very little trouble with the

Colorado Avalanche this season. Few teams have in the past two

months.

The Predators look to boost their playoff hopes and sweep the

Avalanche for the first time in franchise history when these teams

meet Thursday night at the Pepsi Center.

Nashville (41-26-10) had a six-game win streak snapped with

Tuesday’s 3-1 home loss to Vancouver. The Predators totaled 23

goals during their run before getting outshot 32-17 by the

Canucks.

It appears likely Nashville will bounce back after outscoring

Colorado 14-6 in three victories this season, plus the Avalanche

(28-39-8) have won just three of 26 games since Jan. 25. The

Predators, however, are wary of a matchup with the Western

Conference’s second-worst team, especially since Avs star center

Matt Duchene has 11 points in his last eight games.

“Colorado’s a dangerous team,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.

“They’ve played us tough all year. They got lots of speed, they got

lots of skill. Duchene is on fire right now. And they’re at home so

they’re going to be determined to put a wrench in our plans.”

The Predators remain in the top eight in the West with five

games left.

Trotz was disappointed with Nashville’s 0-for-5 effort on the

power play Tuesday. The Predators have one of the league’s worst

units at 14.8 percent and are 3 for 28 over their last 10 games –

an 8-2-0 stretch.

“I thought our power play wasn’t very good today,” the coach

said. “We haven’t had a lot of chances to use it in the last little

while but usually (get) some pretty good zone time and create some

chances. Maybe we don’t get a goal but usually we’re pretty

good.”

Nashville is 1 for 12 this season against Colorado, which owns

the worst penalty kill in the NHL at 76.3 percent.

Martin Erat has six points against Colorado this season, Patric

Hornqvist four and Shea Weber three.

Duchene has two goals and an assist in the season series, but

the Avalanche are 0 for 7 on the power play.

Pekka Rinne has started all three meetings against Colorado,

posting a 2.01 goals-against average. He’s 7-2-0 with a 1.99 GAA

over his last nine starts.

Center Mike Fisher has three goals over his last two games for

Nashville after going 17 without one. He’s scored once in 15 games

against Colorado.

The Avalanche do not have a regulation win since Feb. 22, going

2-12-1 since. They blew an early two-goal lead Monday in their

third straight loss, 5-4 at Anaheim.

“It’s disappointing,” coach Joe Sacco said. “We worked hard, I

think, for the most part.”

Colorado gave up two more power-play goals and has allowed 11 in

38 chances over its last 11 games.

The Avalanche are 1-8-1 at home since their last regulation

victory at the Pepsi Center on Jan. 24.

“We just gotta go into Denver and get the two points that we

need and just keep on getting on that win streak,” Nashville rookie

defenseman Jonathan Blum said.