NASHVILLE — Philipp Grubauer made 38 saves for his first shutout of the season, helping the Colorado Avalanche beat the Nashville Predators 5-0 Saturday for their fourth straight victory.
Colorado improved to 5-1-0 in its last six and has picked up points in eight of its last 10 games while trying to keep pace in Western Conference. The Avalanche pushed a point ahead of Minnesota for the second wild-card spot with their second victory in 24 hours.
The Avalanche also split the season series with the Predators, winning both games in Nashville after losing a first-round series in six games last post-season.
Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals and had an assist. Alexander Kerfoot had a goal and two assists, Nikita Zadorov had a goal and an assist and Gabriel Landeskog added a goal for Colorado.
Grubauer made the start and got the seventh shutout of his career with Colorado playing its second game in 24 hours. Semyon Varlamov started the last nine games, including Friday night’s 5-3 win in Chicago.
The Predators had a two-game win streak snapped, losing to a Central Division foe they had beaten 12 of the previous 13 games in the regular season.
This time, Colorado had the much tougher turnaround for the afternoon game and had to travel to Nashville for the second half of a back-to-back trip. It didn’t matter as Grubauer kept Nashville scoreless, and now the Avalanche have outscored their opponents 18-4 during this four-game streak.
MacKinnon put Colorado up 1-0 with a slap shot from the dot in the left circle that beat goalie Pekka Rinne’s blocker just 3:05 into the game.
The Predators had their chances but went 0-for-4 with the man advantage. They got their second power play in the second when Ryan Graves slashed Filip Forsberg as he skated up the slot with the puck. MacKinnon drew a penalty for Colorado later in the second after a collision with Dan Hamhuis left the Predators defenceman on top of MacKinnon’s stick.
Kerfoot scored from the right circle into a wide-open net at 14:41 for the power-play goal and a 2-0 lead. Landeskog made it 3-0 at 18:02, finishing off a 2-on-1 with a wrister for his 33rd goal of the season.
That was all Grubauer needed as he made save after save, including a stop on Yannick Weber’s backhander on a short-handed attempt midway through the third. MacKinnon made it 4-0 just 28 seconds later with his 32nd this season from the top of the left circle, and Zadorov got his sixth with 3:18 left.
NOTES: Colorado is 4-3-2 in the second game of a back-to-back set. … The Predators now are 9-20-4 when allowing the first goal and 6-16-2 when trailing after the first period.
Avalanche: Host Florida on Monday night.
Predators: Host Oilers on Monday night.
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Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press