Team meeting helps Avalanche, with Predators next
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A team meeting made a difference in the short term for the Colorado Avalanche.
But while the Avalanche rediscovered the magic on Saturday that gave them a fast start to the season, seeing leading scorer Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Erik Johnson leave with injuries put something of a damper on the celebration after a 7-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Colorado won't have Johnson when it hosts the Nashville Predators on Monday afternoon. The defenseman was placed in the concussion protocol and must be cleared before returning to the lineup.
The news was better for Rantanen. Following Saturday's game Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Rantanen was kept out to be safe.
"He had a lower-body tweak, so I just kept him out of the third period for precautionary reasons, wanted to make sure he's healthy for our next game," Bednar said.
Rantanen practiced Sunday morning and told reporters afterward he is fine. Colorado recalled forward Dominic Toninato and defenseman Anton Lindholm from the AHL on Sunday. Lindholm could be in the lineup against the Predators.
The Avalanche have been in an extended slump and were coming off a 1-4 road trip through Canada. The team met before Saturday's game to air out things, and it then put up six goals in the second period, the first time in 20 years Colorado has scored that many goals in one period.
The Avalanche want to keep it going against the Predators, who have dominated the recent matchups between the teams. Colorado ended an 11-game skid in the series with a 3-2 win in Nashville on Nov. 27. The Avalanche were 14-6-4 after that game but have gone 7-12-4 since, still sitting in third in the Central Division after Saturday.
"We should be extremely fortunate," Bednar said Saturday. "Count your blessings and roll up your sleeves and get to work and take advantage of it."
They can also take advantage of a short-handed Nashville team coming off two straight home losses. The Predators were outscored 9-3 in losses to Winnipeg and Florida, the latter of which came without center Ryan Johansen.
Johansen served the first of his two-game suspension for a high stick on the Jets' Mark Scheifele on Thursday night. He will also miss Monday's game.
Nashville has lost four of its last five and has fallen behind early in its last two games.
"It's all attitude. It's what you bring to the rink and bring to the game and it's got to be better," coach Peter Laviolette said Saturday.
Without Johansen, the Predators bring an incomplete but still potent lineup to Denver. Johansen centers the top line with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson, and when they are together they are tough to stop.
The same can be said about Colorado's top line, with Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog on the wings and Nathan MacKinnon at center. Rantanen (73 points) and MacKinnon (70 points) are in the top five in the NHL in scoring and Landeskog leads the team with 29 goals.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 20, 2019
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Published: 2015-05-28 13:51:00
Updated: 2016-07-13 10:41:59
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