Los Angeles (AFP) – Kevin Fiala scored a goal and an assist as the Nashville Predators took a grip on their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday with a 5-4 victory.
The Predators — last year’s beaten Stanley Cup finalists — now lead the best-of-seven Western Conference series 2-0 as they head to Colorado for game three on Monday.
Nashville were made to work hard for Saturday’s win, however, with Colorado taking a deserved lead in the first period through Gabriel Bourque.
The Predators came roaring back in the second period however, with Fiala launching the fight back with the team’s opening goal to make it 1-1.
Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen then scored to put Nashville in control at 3-1, but Nathan MacKinnon reduced the deficit for Colorado with the final goal of the period.
Austin Watson put Nashville 4-2 up early in the third period but Gabriel Landeskog finished from a MacKinnon assist to keep the Avalanche in the hunt.
The decisive blow came when Ryan Hartman scored to put the Predators 5-3 ahead, and although Alexander Kerfoot scored a consolation with 36 seconds left, it was too little too late.
Nashville forward Johansen said the Predators’ failure to kill off Colorado decisively earlier in the game should be a wake-up call.
“They’ve got a lot of young skill over there that can make you pay,” Johansen said. “We find a way to get a lead and they were resilient and ended up crawling back into the game. We’ve got to make sure we close out games better.”
Colorado, meanwhile, were left ruing their failure to build on their early lead.
“We were in the game and had a couple of great chances to extend the lead in the first or second,” forward Mikko Rantanen said. “It’s disappointing.”
Elsewhere Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning also took a 2-0 lead in their series with a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils.
Alex Killorn scored twice for the Lightning, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 41 saves in the Eastern Conference first-round clash.