Avalanche

Rinne Stops 27 Shots, Predators Beat Avs 3-2

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Colin Wilson #33 of the Nashville Predators pressures the goal as John-Michael Liles #4 of the Colorado Avalanche defends at the Pepsi Center on March 31. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Colin Wilson #33 of the Nashville Predators pressures the goal as John-Michael Liles #4 of the Colorado Avalanche defends at the Pepsi Center on March 31. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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DENVER (AP) — Pekka Rinne made 27 saves and the Nashville Predators beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Thursday night to close in on a playoff spot.

Martin Erat had a goal and an assist and Colin Wilson and Jordin Tootoo also scored to help the Predators win for the ninth time in 11 games. Nashville passed idle Anaheim in the Western Conference standings, jumping from seventh place into a tie for fifth with Los Angeles with four games left.

Paul Stastny and David Jones scored and Brian Elliott made 31 saves for Colorado, 3-22-2 in its last 27 games. Three of those losses have come against Nashville, which swept the season series.

The Predators took a 3-0 lead when Erat scored on the power play with 7:08 left, his 16th goal of the season, and then had to survive a late rally by the Avalanche.

Stastny scored his 22nd goal with 6:25 left to make it 3-1, and Elliott left for an extra skater and Jones scored with 1:02 left to make it a one-goal game.

Elliott again was pulled in the final minute but Colorado couldn’t get the equalizer.

Wilson got the Predators on the board first with his 16th goal of the season. Matt Halischuk sent a pass from behind the goal to Wilson, who deflected it over Elliot’s right shoulder with 4:25 left in the first period.

The Predators dominated the second period, outshooting the Avalanche 18-5 in the frame and keeping the play in Colorado’s end for a good portion of the 20 minutes.

They finally cashed in when Tootoo made it 2-0 midway through the period. Tootoo positioned himself in the slot and redirected Cody Franson’s shot from the point past Elliott for his sixth goal of the season.

NOTES: The Avalanche recalled defenseman Cameron Gaunce from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League and reassigned Shawn Belle to the Monsters. … The first penalty wasn’t called until Jones went off for tripping with 8:27 left in the second period.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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