There were no problems with the plumbing Saturday night at Ball Arena, but the Avalanche’s opponent still needs a plunger.
Mikko Rantanen and Alex Newhook scored in the second period, Alexandar Georgiev saved 25 of 26 shots and the Avs never trailed in a 3-1 win over the division rival Predators.
Colorado (16-11-2) has picked up at least one point in four of the last five games, while Nashville has lost six in a row dating back to early December — shortly after an Avalanche-Predators game was postponed due to a water main break caused flooding at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
The Avs are 7-3-0 in the Central Division this season, including a 2-0-0 mark against the Predators.
They got a boost from their increasingly most valuable player Saturday: Rantanen scored his 21st goal of the season to break Colorado’s 0-for-18 power play drought, which dated back to the loss of Nathan MacKinnon to an upper-body injury. Rantanen had just missed a shot off the post when the puck was rotated back to him. In almost the same exact spot in the left faceoff circle, he whipped a perfect finish into the top corner at the far post.
It broke a scoreless tie at 8:38 of the second period. Newhook, playing on a line with recently recovered forwards Evan Rodrigues and Valeri Nichushkin, had an impactful night. He drew the penalty that resulted in Rantanen’s goal, then he scored the game-winner with 15 seconds remaining in the period.
It was an example of excellent rush execution. Nichushkin forced a Nashville turnover along the boards, and the puck fell to Rodrigues for a 2-on-1. Rodrigues waited until the last second, even starting to coil into a shooting motion, then he dished a slippery pass to Newhook on his left instead. The winger also went top shelf for his seventh goal and 12th point.
He’s one goal behind Artturi Lehkonen and Cale Makar for second place on the team. Rantanen holds a 13-goal lead.
At the 29-game mark of the season, this was only the fourth time the Avalanche didn’t concede a goal in the first two periods, and only the fifth time going consecutive periods in a game without an opponent scoring.
Georgiev allowed as many leaks as Nashville’s arena. It was a solid bounce-back night for him after recent struggles. He entered this game with an .876 save percentage in his last six outings.
“It just seemed like he was seeing everything tonight, and he was in good position,” Bednar said.
But with 37 seconds remaining, he made an outstanding glove save to rob Nashville’s Filip Forsberg of a game-tying goal. It left Forsberg laughing in disbelief before the ensuing faceoff. Makar sent an empty-net goal to the opposite end to seal the win.