Johansen, Watson help Predators beat Avalanche 5-3
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DENVER — Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne worried that a one-goal advantage heading into the third period wouldn't be enough for the Predators on Tuesday night.
Ryan Johansen and Austin Watson provided him with some quick insurance.
Johansen and Watson scored in the first 2:42 of the third, and both had an assist in the Predators' 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
"We got really timely goals," Rinne said. "It was a big game for Colorado — they weren't going away."
Viktor Arvidsson, Mike Fisher and Kevin Fiala also scored, and Roman Josi had two assists for the Predators, who have won eight of 11.
Rinne stopped 37 shots, improving to 17-7-2 in his career against the Avalanche. He also finished the month 9-1-2.
A tight game was busted open by Johansen and Watson, who made it 5-2 early in the third.
"It gave us a little bit of a cushion," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "Because you knew that they were going to keep coming, offensively."
Mikko Rantanen and Rene Bourque each had a goal and an assist, and Mikhail Grigorenko also scored for Colorado, which is 0-2-1 on a five-game homestand.
Calvin Pickard, starting in place of Semyon Varlamov for the second consecutive game, stopped 28 shots before he was pulled with 1:50 remaining. Pickard is 4-2-1 in seven starts this season.
"They made us pay on a few different plays," Pickard said. "If you give them chances, they are going to bury (them)."
Arvidsson put Nashville up 2-1 just 7 seconds into the second period. He took an expert pass from P.K. Subban and beat Pickard on the glove side. It tied a franchise record for the quickest goal to a start a period, according to the team.
The Predators scripted the play coming out of intermission.
"Great play by Subby, great play by Arvi to break through the D and put it top shelf," Johansen said. "That was a big goal for us."
The Avalanche have struggled mightily all season early in periods. Colorado forward Matt Duchene said it's a problem that needs to be fixed immediately.
"I don't know why we aren't prepared for the start of periods," he said. "It's like we are on our heels; we don't want to make mistakes rather than we want to go out and win. I mean, it can't happen."
Fiala made it a two-goal advantage 3:04 into second, but Bourque cut it to 3-2 with his eighth of the season.
Fisher put the Predators ahead with 5:08 left in the first. After Colorado turned the puck over in its own zone, the Nashville captain took a pass from Watson and placed it under Pickard's armpit for his fifth goal of the season.
Rantanen tied it 66 seconds later for Colorado.
NOTES: The Predators finished their brief trip 1-1-0 after losing to Winnipeg 3-0 on Sunday. "It was huge for us to get some points on the road," Watson said. . Nashville LW James Neal (upper-body injury), the team's leading goal scorer, missed his second consecutive game. He had 10 goals before he was placed on injured reserve Saturday. ... D Ryan Ellis and forward Colton Sissons also are on IR with upper-body injuries for the Predators. .. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (lower body) missed his sixth straight game. ... Varlamov has been cleared to return from a wrist injury but served as Pickard's backup. ... Colorado RW Jarome Iginla appeared in his 1,495th game, tying Phil Housley for 17th on the career list.
Predators: Begin a three-game homestand Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.
Avalanche: Continue their homestand Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.