NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Filip Forsberg had two goals and an assist to lead the Nashville Predators over the streaking Colorado Avalanche 5-2 Thursday night in a game between rosters wrecked by COVID-19 outbreaks.

NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 16: Cole Smith #36 battles for the puck against Logan O’Connor #25 of the Colorado Avalanche during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on December 16, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tanner Jeannot scored and added an assist, and Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm also scored. Juuse Saros made 24 saves for Nashville, which extended its season-best winning streak to six games. Colton Sissons had three assists.

Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist, and Valeri Nichushkin also scored for Colorado. Pavel Francouz made 30 saves as the Avs ended a five-game winning streak.
Both teams were missing players placed in the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Colorado lost Cale Makar shortly before faceoff and used just 16 skaters — two fewer than normal. The Avs also dressed an emergency backup goaltender. Nashville had seven players sidelined by the protocols.

Forsberg scored first at 13:23 of the opening period with a wrist shot from the right point through traffic that beat Francouz on the short side.
Francouz saw his first NHL action since March 11, 2020, after sustaining hip and ankle injuries.

Nashville made it 2-0 at 7:21 of the second on Jeannot’s power-play goal. Forsberg had the puck at the left faceoff dot and sent a pass to Sissons, standing just to the left of Francouz. Sissons made a quick touch pass to Jeannot in the slot, where he connected on a one-timer for his seventh goal of the season.

Colorado answered with a power-play goal at 9:57 of the second. Nazem Kadri’s shot from the top of the left circle deflected off a Nashville skate and landed on Rantanen’s stick at the right faceoff dot, where he beat Saros with a one-timer.

NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 16: Yakov Trenin #13 of the Nashville Predators and Samuel Girard #49 of the Colorado Avalanche battles for the puck against during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on December 16, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Forsberg struck again at 16:48 of the second. Skating into the Colorado zone on the right side on a 2-on-1 with Jeannot, Forsberg’s attempted pass to Jeannot in the slot deflected off the stick of Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard and past Francouz.

The Avalanche drew within a goal at 9:12 of the third when Nichushkin scored just after a Colorado power play expired, but Josi’s man-advantage goal at 12:19 of the third restored Nashville’s two-goal lead.

Ekholm’s empty-net goal with just over a minute remaining capped the scoring.

SHORTHANDED AVS

With Colorado placing five players — Andre Burakovsky, J.T. Compher, Devon Toews, Darcy Kuemper and Makar — on the COVID-19 protocol list, the Avalanche lineup was two skaters short Thursday night due to salary cap constraints and the late nature of the COVID-related scratches. Colorado dressed 11 forwards and five defenseman.

Just prior to warmup, the Avalanche announced that Kuemper entered the COVID protocol. Nashville area emergency backup goaltender Dustin Smith filled in as Francouz’s backup in the game. Smith played goaltender for Middle Tennessee State University’s club team from 2006-09.

The Kuemper announcement was followed by Makar, which was made just prior to the game’s opening faceoff.

Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson did not play his first shift until 14:06 had elapsed in the first while waiting on results of a COVID-19 test.

NEW FACES BEHIND THE BENCH

With Nashville’s entire coaching staff on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list along with seven players, the Predators had to take the unusual step of recalling both players and coaches from Milwaukee of the AHL on Thursday. Admirals coach Karl Taylor and assistant Scott Ford were behind the Nashville bench and were joined by Predators assistant general manager Scott Nichol.

MACKINNON STREAK

With an assist on Rantanen’s second-period power-play goal, Nathan MacKinnon extended his point-scoring streak to nine games. Over the course of the streak, MacKinnon has two goals and 12 assists.

WHAT’S NEXT

Predators: Travels to Chicago Friday.
Avalanche: Hosts Tampa Bay Saturday.

By JIM DIAMOND Associated Press

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