Craig Smith scores in OT to give Predators win over Avalanche
The Nashville Predators are so comfortable at home this season they simply don’t bat an eye, even when giving up the tying goal with 36 seconds left in regulation.
Craig Smith scored on a breakaway at 2:46 of overtime, and the Predators beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Tuesday night. Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Colin Wilson also scored for the Predators, who pushed the NHL’s best home record to 19-2-1 and tied the franchise record with their eighth straight home win.
"We like playing in this building," Smith said. "We hold a high standard. It’s a lot of fun to win in this building. I don’t think anybody in here wants to lose right now."
Mike Ribeiro had three assists and Shea Weber two as Nashville improved to 9-1-3 in its last 13 games.
Carter Hutton made 21 saves in earning his second straight home win in place of injured All-Star goalie Pekka Rinne. In overtime, Hutton stopped a shot by Zach Redmond. Ribeiro then passed to Smith, who beat Semyon Varlamov on the glove side.
"He got his head up, made a nice saucer pass to the middle," Smith said.
Cody McLeod, Jarome Iginla and Nick Holden scored for Colorado, which entered 10th in the Western Conference but only three points out of the final wild-card spot.
Holden forced overtime by scoring his fourth this season with 36 seconds left in regulation from in front over Hutton’s glove. Varlamov had been pulled for an extra skater.
It wasn’t what Nashville coach Peter Laviolette wanted, but he liked his team’s response.
"It’s great to have a good record at home, and we have got to continue to push," Laviolette said.
Varlamov made 35 saves, nearly helping Colorado steal more than a point.
"You want to get that second point," Colorado forward Alex Tanguay said. "We had our chance and they had theirs, and they scored."
The Predators sent Forsberg, Weber and Laviolette to All-Star weekend where Forsberg, the only rookie in the game, scored two goals for Team Toews.
This was the first of four games in six nights for Nashville, and these teams meet again Friday night in Denver as part of the Predators’ three-game road trip.
Forsberg gave the Predators a 3-2 lead 32 seconds into the third. When the rebound of his own shot squirted over to him, he scored on a wrister that went off Varlamov’s glove for his 16th this season. That was the only shot Nashville got past Varlamov in the third as the Colorado goalie made 13 saves.
Colorado scored first when McLeod got his stick in front of a Nashville player to tip the puck past Hutton for a 1-0 lead at 11:52 of the first period. With seconds left in the period, Hutton stopped a shot from McLeod with a pad save.
Josi tied it for Nashville with a one-timer that beat Varlamov at 3:33 of the second. Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon just missed off the post at 11:22 of the second, then the Predators got the man advantage when John Mitchell was caught high-sticking James Neal. Wilson scored on a slap shot at 13:21 for a 2-1 lead.
It didn’t last long. Iginla scored on his own slap shot off a drop pass from Matt Duchene at 16:05.
NOTES: Nashville also won eight straight home games between Jan. 6 and Feb. 8, 2007. … Ribeiro has 25 points (five goals, 20 assists) in his last 24 games, including 11 assists in his last 10 games. … Wilson has 19 points in his last 15 games. … The Predators are 14-9-2 when giving up the first goal and 20-4-5 in one-goal games.