Rantanen, Newhook goals lift Avs over Predators, 3-1
DENVER (AP) — Mikko Rantanen and Alex Newhook scored goals in the second period, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Nashville Predators 3-1 on Saturday night.
Cale Makar scored into the empty net in the final minute and added an assist and Alexandar Georgiev stopped 25 shots for Colorado, which bounced back from a Thursday loss to Buffalo in the second game of its five-game homestand.
Juuse Saros made 27 saves and Matt Duchene scored the lone goal for the slumping Predators, who are 0-4-2 since a three-game winning streak in late November and early December.
“Saros has been great every single night,” said Nino Niederreiter, who got the lone assist on Duchene’s goal. “We’ve got to make sure we find a way to win more hockey games. We did a couple of good things but we’ve got to make sure we play a full 60 minutes.”
Rantanen hit the post on his first shot attempt on the power play and moments later beat Saros high from the right circle at 8:38 of the second period. It was his 21st of the season and sixth goal in the last five games.
“Mikko hits the post on one and then walked in he gets another crack at it shortly after that,” coach Jared Bednar said. “I thought they were really focused tonight and doing the right things and staying in attack mode.”
The goal broke an 0-for-18 stretch on the power play. Newhook scored Colorado’s last power-play goal Dec. 5 at Philadelphia, which was when Nathan MacKinnon suffered an injury that will keep him out until early January.
“We kind of knew it was coming. We were working, so it was going to come,” Makar said. “We can’t force things, but I feel like tonight we were creating opportunities and it was only a matter of time.”
Nashville turned it over late in the second and Newhook capitalized with a one-timer on a pass from Evan Rodrigues at 19:44. Rodrigues has a goal and an assist since returning from a nine-game absence on Thursday night.
“I saw Val (Nichushkin) slashing through and he made a great play on the wall to get it up to E-Rod,” Newhook said. “I just tried to jump into the play, figured I could be a trailer, and then it shaped into being a two-on-one. I expected to get the pass and picked my spot.”
Duchene got the Predators within a goal when he scored off his own rebound 3:25 into the third. He has 10 goals in 11 regular season games against his former team.
“I made a good play being strong on the puck and picked it up, wrapped it, got a nice balance was able to put it in. Nothing more than that,” Duchene said. “We battled hard but, at the end of the day, you score one goal in regulation you’re not going to win.”
Nashville twice pulled Saros for an extra skater in the final minutes and had a shot on goal, but Makar scored into the empty net with 32 seconds left to clinch it.
NOTES: Avalanche G Pavel Francouz served as Georgiev’s backup after missing Thursday’s game due to illness. ... Nashville C Mikael Granlund played in his 700th career game. ... Colorado recalled D Brad Hunt from the AHL on Saturday morning. He played on the third pairing with Andreas Englund.
Predators: Host Edmonton on Monday night.
Avalanche: Host the New York Islanders on Monday night.