Colorado Avalanche Beat the Predators in Nashville

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 27: Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators skates to the bench after a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena on November 27, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 27: Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators skates to the bench after a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena on November 27, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche gutted out a 3-2 victory over the Predators during an exciting game in Nashville. The Avs are climbing up the standings.

The Colorado Avalanche did something they haven’t done in a long time — they beat the Nashville Predators. Not only did they beat the Preds, but they beat Nashville at home.

To put it in perspective, the Avs haven’t beaten the Predators in the regular season in 11 games. Only three other teams have beaten the Predators in Nashville, so Colorado is in elite company.

Well, that’s fitting. After a rough start to November, the Avalanche have been playing some elite hockey. They’ve won their last five games straight and have gone 7-0-1 in the last eight.

And all of that, along with a couple fortuitous losses (Winnipeg and Minnesota) means Colorado has climbed in the standings. They’re now second in the Central Division and just three points behind the Predators. And they have a game in hand.

What? Does anyone else look at how the season’s going and want to pinch yourself to see if it’s real.

Let’s look at how the keys of the game played out and then crow a little about Jost.

Hottest Line in the NHL

The hottest line in the NHL — Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog — combined for four points, 2 goals, both MacKinnon, and 2 assists, both Rantanen. In fact, MacKinnon has 17 goals on the season, and Rantanen has assisted on all of them. That’s some synergy.

They have 101 points in the NHL. No line has more. Yes, they’re still the hottest line in the NHL.

Hot Nashville Defense

The Colorado Avalanche did not make mince meat out of the prime rib Nashville defense. Their captain, defenseman Roman Josi, got eight shots on goal and recorded a point on Kevin Fiala‘s goal.

Colorado was helped by the fact that P.K. Subban sat out this game due to an upper body injury. But, hey, that’s how the game works.

On the Avalanche side, we got some good production out of our whirling Dervish, Samuel Girard. I didn’t personally see him spin-o-rama (nor did I hear Peter McNab go into conniptions as he does every time), but he recorded an assist on each of MacKinnon’s goals.

Tight Hockey

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Tonight’s 3-2 win was brought to you courtesy of some tight hockey. They made some mistakes, but they didn’t exacerbate the mistakes with even more mistakes or loosey goosey hockey.

What’s more, they didn’t take their foot of the pedal when they were in the lead. Twice they took the lead. The first time Nashville did come back to tie the game, but it wasn’t because of sloppy play/

Avs forward Tyson Jost scored the go-ahead goal just over five minutes into the third period. That means Colorado had to withstand the Predators onslaught for just under 15 minutes. And Nashville brought it on, fueled in no small part by their home crowd.

The Predators bombarded goalie Semyon Varlamov with 20 shots in the third period alone. However, he turned them aside, and the Avalanche minimized mistakes to keep the lead. They also withstood the 2 1/2 minutes of man-advantage when coach Peter Laviolette pulled goalie Pekka Rinne.

The Return of Tyson Jost

Coach Jared Bednar spoke about Jost in his post-game presser. He remarked that Jost hadn’t been playing his best game before his head injury, observing that Tyson wasn’t skating and putting pucks on net. He attributed that partially to Jost “getting into his own head a little bit.”

While he was out four games with his head injury (Jost himself called it a concussion, but it’s officially being called a head injury), he worked with skills coach Shawn Allard.

I told you it was development and that Tyson Jost needed it. I also told you it was partially mental, which is why I suggested a mentor. As I said in my previous post, Jost got some one-on-one help from Allard, which appears to be just what he needed.

He’s been much better since returning. And in the last four games, he’s recorded 11 shots and four points, including tonight’s game-winning goal:

You can see that his confidence is returning, and Jost is a dangerous player when he’s playing with confidence. I’m just going to say it — that’s the kind of play you saw him make when he was playing in North Dakota and was dazzling as a freshman.

And, like I said, a talent like that — the vision to have such a quick release and make such an accurate shot — is worth cultivating, not giving up on just because he took a minute to get his NHL legs this season. (I’m beginning to think he might be one of those slow start guys. So was Jarome Iginla, and that worked out well for him.)

Confidence — it’s essential for Jost. Indeed, during his post-game presser, he showed a little of that confidence when he remarked, “We feel we’re one of the big dogs in the league now.”

Next. MacKinnon Still Growing into his Role. dark

The Avalanche are going to need his confidence, along with all the other mechanisms working well for them right now, for the stretch they have ahead. They return home for the second game of a back-to-back, face a division rival, then head off on a four-game road trip. Not exactly easy going.

But let’s not pinch ourselves just yet — good Colorado Avalanche feels too good right now, and I don’t care if we’re all dreaming.