DENVER (AP) — Pekka Rinne stopped a penalty shot in making 35 saves and the Nashville Predators knocked off the reeling Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Monday to help Peter Laviolette capture win No. 600 of his NHL coaching career.
Nick Bonino and Viktor Arvidsson scored 1:34 apart in the second period, while Roman Josi added another and Ryan Ellis contributed a late empty-netter from deep in his zone. The Predators maintained their mastery of the Avalanche, beating their Central Division rivals for a 12th time over the last 13 regular-season meetings.
Alexander Kerfoot had the lone goal for an Avalanche squad that’s dropped five of seven.
Rinne’s biggest save came on a penalty shot by Matt Nieto in the second period to keep the game scoreless. Bonino soon followed by lining a shot between the pads of Semyon Varlamov. The Predators are 23-2-1 when scoring first.
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Colorado was coming off a 7-1 win over Los Angeles on Saturday in which the team tied a franchise record with six goals in the second period. The scoring spree didn’t carry over. The Avs haven’t won two straight games since late November.
Rinne bounced back from a recent rough stretch to earn the win. He’s now 25-8-2 in his career against the Avalanche.
Laviolette, in his fifth season with Nashville, became the 20th coach in league history to reach 600 victories.
With his team down a man because of a penalty, Nieto had a breakaway early in the second period when he was hit on the hands by Bonino. Awarded a penalty shot, Nieto was stuffed as Rinne extended his right pad.
Moments later, Bonino scored his 100th NHL goal. Arvidsson then increased the lead with his 11th goal in 14 games since returning from a broken thumb.
Kerfoot made it 2-1 with a tip-in at 16:43 of the second period, but Josi quickly restored the two-goal cushion by lifting a shot over Varlamov following a pinpoint pass from Austin Watson.
The first period was filled with plenty of pushing and a few punches. Things got a little heated when Watson took offense to Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov delivering a big hit on a teammate. Watson challenged Zadorov to drop the gloves, and they squared off before being separated and sent to the penalty box.
Nieto agitated the Predators later in the period when he stopped in front of Rinne, sending a spray of ice into the goaltender’s face.
Avalanche All-Star forward Mikko Rantanen returned after sitting out the third period against the Los Angeles Kings with a lower-body injury. He said at practice Sunday that “everything is fine.”
NOTES: Predators C Ryan Johansen served the second of a two-game suspension for a high stick on Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele. … Avalanche D Erik Johnson (head) was in the concussion protocol and missed the game. “He’s likely not a player for us before the break,” coach Jared Bednar said.
Predators: The second of a three-game trip will be Wednesday in Las Vegas against the Golden Knights.
Avalanche: Host Minnesota on Wednesday before not playing again until Feb. 2.
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