Nashville Predators 5, Colorado Avalanche 4 (OT): Kunin, Duchene shine in messy game

For once, the biggest discipline problems weren’t the Preds’.

The Nashville Predators returned home after a successful road trip to face off against the Colorado Avalanche; both teams entered on hot streaks and around the top of the Central (depending on your standard of measurement).

The Preds got out to a strong start, opening with some solid puck possession and chances that led to Tanner Jeannot scoring the opening goal of the game around two and a half minutes in.

Sadly, after that, the Predators got into penalty trouble, with first Dante Fabbro (newly back in the lineup) and then Eeli Tolvanen heading to the sin bin. The power plays allowed the Avalanche back into the game with a vengeance as they piled up shots and chances of their own, tilting the ice all the way back in their favor and forcing Juuse Saros to work hard to keep the Preds’ lead.

With just under a minute remaining in the period, Luke Kunin capped off a spectacular skating sequence from Roman Josi with a great shot to put the Preds up 2-0. A couple of seconds after that, Alex Newhook was called for tripping—kind of an iffy call—and the Preds maintained possession on the delayed penalty for a full 45 seconds before the Avs touched up and the 5v4 power play began.

Unsurprisingly, they didn’t score on the seven seconds of 5v4 time they had before intermission, and despite some good puck movement they were also unable to convert on the remaining 1:53 of power play after intermission.

An early miscommunication by the Avs gave Matt Luff his second great chance of the game, though Darcy Kuemper was once again able to make the stop. The Avs retaliated with some chances of their own, which culminated in Nicolas Aube-Kubel putting a rebound past Saros a little less than halfway into the period, cutting the Preds’ lead to one.

Moments later, with Mark Borowiecki down on the ice and unable to get up after blocking a shot, Andre Burakovsky got the puck past Juuse Saros. Play had to stop after the goal for a trainer to go out and try to help Borowiecki back up, which allowed John Hynes time to consider whether there had also been goalie interference on the play. The Preds’ coaching staff decided not to appeal, and the refs’ no-whistle on the Borowiecki injury was of course not reviewable, so after Borowiecki was finally able to be helped off the ice and down the tunnel play resumed with the game tied 2-2.

After some tense back and forth, Kunin scored his second of the night to put the Preds back up, 3-2, with just a few minutes left in the period. The Preds held this lead through intermission and into the start of the third period, where Mattias Ekholm appeared to be playing through something of his own.

Ryan Johansen was called for tripping, and managed to goad Jack Johnson into a roughing penalty but took one of his own in the process. Nick Cousins served the extra penalty for Johansen as the Avs’ power play got another chance—and this time they scored, as Nate MacKinnon tied the game again at three.

The teams returned to even strength briefly before Mikko Rantanen high-sticked Johansen hard enough to draw blood, giving the Preds four minutes to try to restore their lead. Matt Duchene scored with time left in the first of the penalties, putting the Preds up 4-3 and giving the fans Frosties, but the best chance of the second penalty was a shorthanded one by Logan O’Connor.

Cale Makar then tied the game again, getting the puck just under the bar. The Avalanche continued to press as the period wound down, and then sent a sixth skater out with just under two minutes left in regulation—and got caught. The Preds got another power play opportunity, but despite a few good chances right before the whistle were unable to convert.

Overtime began with seven seconds left on the Preds’ power play, and unsurprisingly continued beyond that. Both goalies had to make several spectacular saves.

With 2:28 left in overtime, the Avalanche were called once again for too many men, and the Predators got another power play. The Avs broke in shorthanded to start the penalty off, but Matt Duchene was able to score seconds later to get the Preds the 5-4 win.