Avalanche seek revenge against banged-up Predators
The Nashville Predators opened November with a dominant win in Denver. They're looking to end the month the same way.
Nashville left Pepsi Center with a 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 1 but it might be tough to duplicate the results when the teams play Tuesday night. Nashville is without leading goal scorer James Neal, who didn't make the brief two-game trip that started Sunday with a 3-0 loss in Winnipeg.
Defenseman Ryan Ellis and forward Colton Sissons also didn't make the trip after being put on injured reserve. The Predators called up reinforcements from Milwaukee of the AHL, but it didn't help in the shutout loss to the Jets.
Nashville had 20 shots in the third period of the loss but couldn't get one by Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.
“I think we played well the first 20 minutes and then the second period wasn't nearly good enough,” Predators defenseman P.K. Subban told NHL.com. “The third period we had opportunities to score but couldn't put it in. We've got to understand that to win on the road we need to play a full 60-minute game. That's what it's going to take.”
The Predators aren't alone when it comes to injuries. The Avalanche will be without captain Gabriel Landeskog for a sixth straight game with a lower-body injury and goaltender Semyon Varlamov's wrist has improved enough that he will serve as Calvin Pickard's backup, but he will not start for the second straight game.
Landeskog hasn't skated since Friday but coach Jared Bednar said he is close to returning.
“He's still considered day to day for me,” Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com. “He's having good days and bad days right now.”
Defenseman Erik Johnson didn't practice Monday because of illness but is expected to play Tuesday.
The Avalanche received a bit of good news. Leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon will play after slamming hard into the boards in Saturday's shootout loss to Vancouver. MacKinnon got treatment on his neck and back Sunday and is good to go.
“I was skating as fast as I could and lost an edge, and kind of spun,” he told HockeyBuzz.com after Monday's practice. “If we were playing (Sunday) I think I would have been able to skate. I got some treatment from the trainers and I feel better today.”
Colorado is trying to find some consistency seven weeks into the season. The Avalanche haven't won or lost more than two games in a row yet and are 9-10-1 with three games left on this five-game homestand.
They would like to turn things around against a Nashville team that beat them handily Nov. 1. Colorado was guilty of playing poor defense and taking undisciplined penalties against the Predators, and it prompted a team meeting right after that game ended.
A win Tuesday would even Colorado's record and probably mean no team meeting.
“It'd be nice to get to .500 — I know it really (wouldn't) be .500, but it is in our minds,” MacKinnon told HockeyBuzz.com. “I guess we're happy we got a point (against Vancouver), but we obviously wanted to get the win. We're getting better. I think it's a process. We're better than we were last year. We're definitely improving.”