Predators 5, Avalanche 1

Shaken hours earlier by the loss of Tomas Fleischmann to a

season-ending illness, the Colorado Avalanche were no match for the

surging Nashville Predators.

Pekka Rinne stopped 32 shots to lift the Predators to a 5-1 win

Thursday night over an Avalanche team suddenly dealing with the

absence of Fleischmann, who will miss the rest of the season due to

blood clots in his lungs.

”That’s tough,” teammate Paul Stastny said. ”I don’t think

you think much about hockey when you lose a player like that.”

Known for their sound defensive play, the Predators showed they

could score a little bit, too, tying a season high with five goals.

It was the second straight game in which they scored that many.

Sergei Kostitsyn, Cody Franson, Matt Halischuk, David Legwand

and Colin Wilson had goals for the Predators, who have won nine of

11.

Rinne came up big in net all night, but lost his shutout bid

when Matt Duchene scored with 3:37 remaining.

”Obviously, every time you get scored on, I’m not happy,” said

Rinne, who improved to 8-1 over his last nine starts. ”But it’s a

big win for us and that is the main thing. … We’ve been playing

pretty well as of late and we’ve been building a lot of confidence.

Personally, I feel good, and the guys are playing well in front of

me.”

It was a difficult day for the Avs as Fleischmann, one of their

top scorers, was diagnosed with two blood clots, one in each of his

lungs. He complained of shortness of breath following the morning

skate.

The team said the 26-year-old left wing will be on blood

thinners for several months and will be held out of action. He

should be able to resume his career following treatment.

”Tomas was playing very well for us,” Avalanche coach Joe

Sacco said. ”He’s been a guy that had some production at very

important times of the games. He was very clutch for us in many

games. … He’ll be missed.”

The turning point of the game might have been when Ryan Stoa

nearly scored in the second period by tapping in a rebound, but the

referee signaled for play to continue.

Once action was stopped, the call was reviewed for quite some

time and overhead shots appeared to show the puck bouncing in and

then back out upon hitting the pads of Rinne, who was deep inside

the net.

The call on the ice was upheld, keeping the score 2-0. Agitated,

Sacco briefly chatted with the officials before waving his arms in

disgust.

”We got word from someone who was watching inside the room that

it had crossed the line. That’s what it looked like to me,” Sacco

said. ”You make it 2-1, could be a different game. That’s not an

excuse for the outcome. That team played well tonight. We got what

we deserved.”

Nashville jumped out to a quick lead, scoring twice in the

opening period – more than enough offense given the way Rinne was

playing.

”We’re playing well as a team,” Franson said. ”Everybody is

on the same page. We’ve played well defensively and in doing that

it has given us chances to play a little bit of offense. The guys

have been playing well and burying the chances they’ve

gotten.”

The loss of Fleischmann is quite a blow to the Avs, who entered

the game with the fourth-highest scoring squad in the NHL. General

manager Greg Sherman said he would to chat with Sacco before making

any decisions on who might fill in.

This was the latest setback in an injury-plagued season for

Colorado. The team has had quite a few of its top players miss time

with ailments.

”(Fleischmann) has been one of our best forwards,” said

Duchene, whose goal gave him 99 career points in 128 games. ”For

me, he’s been a great linemate. It’s tough to lose a guy like that,

but we’ve been a team all year that’s pressed forward when we’ve

had injuries. So we’re going to move forward and hopefully he has a

speedy recovery and gets back as soon as possible.”

NOTES: This was Colorado’s first meeting with Nashville this

season, leaving Anaheim as the only Western Conference foe the team

has yet to face. … Predators F Marek Svatos missed the game with

a lower-body injury. Svatos was a seventh-round pick in 2001 by

Colorado. … Predators F Patric Hornqvist finished with two

assists. … D Kyle Cumiskey was back against Nashville after

sitting out with a concussion since Oct. 30. He logged 19 minutes

of ice time and had two shots on goal. … Halischuk scored his

second career goal. His other one came against Washington on Nov.

14, 2009.