Final OT

Series (Game 4 of 4)

Nashville leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, October 25th
Avalanche5Final
Predators3
Game 2: Monday, November 24th
Predators3Final
Avalanche2
Game 3: Thursday, January 8th
Avalanche3Final
OT
Predators4
Game 4: Sunday, April 4th
Predators2Final
OT
Avalanche1

Predators 2

(38-29-4, 91 pts)

Avalanche 1

(40-22-7, 100 pts)

4:00 PM ET, April 4, 2004

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

1 2 3 OT T
NSH 0 0 1 12
COL 1 0 0 01

J. Liles (Avalanche - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

C. Mason (Predators - G): Saves: 38, Save Pct.: .974

D. Legwand (Predators - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Avs face Stars in first round of playoffs

DENVER (AP) -- With the first playoff berth in franchise history already secured and no chance of moving up, the Nashville Predators just wanted to end the season on a good note.

Mission accomplished.

Chris Mason stopped 38 shots to keep Nashville close and David Legwand scored 32 seconds into overtime, helping the Predators pull out a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

"We wanted to get this one in the worst way," Legwand said. "The last thing we wanted was for people to say we backed into the playoffs. We wanted to get there, but we wanted to earn our way in."

They did -- sort of.

Nashville blew a chance to clinch the first playoff berth in the franchise's six-year history with a 4-1 loss to St. Louis on Saturday, but got in anyway when Vancouver beat Edmonton later that night.

The Predators didn't get to celebrate on the ice, but at least they'll head into the playoffs with a little steam. Nashville ended the regular season 5-2-0-1 and will face the top-seeded Red Wings in the first round, starting Wednesday in Detroit.

"Yesterday was one of the longest days, waiting for the outcome of the game between Vancouver and Edmonton," Nashville's Scott Hartnell said. "It worked out for us. This made it better, closing out the year on a winning note."

The Avalanche wish they could say the same thing.

Despite being in control for most of the game and outshooting Nashville 39-23, Colorado gave up the tying goal by Hartnell with 10{ minutes left in regulation. Milan Hejduk got a piece of Dan Hamhuis' shot at the start of overtime, but it deflected right to Legwand for the winner.

"There's no time to think negatively," Colorado's Adam Foote said. "You've got to be positive and go from here. It's a new season and we'll take it from here."

Colorado reached 100 points for the fifth time in nine seasons in Denver, but the Avalanche aren't exactly on a roll headed into the playoffs.

An 0-5-1 stretch in March dropped Colorado from near the top of the Western Conference to fourth and ended its league-record run of division titles at nine. Vancouver clinched the Northwest Division with a 5-2 victory over Edmonton Saturday.

The Avalanche will open the playoffs Wednesday at home against Dallas, and they could be without forward Paul Kariya. He had to be helped off with 2:21 left in regulation after being dumped by Hartnell and twisting his right ankle.

"Obviously, this game didn't really mean anything," Colorado's Teemu Selanne said. "Bad things happen sometimes and we just have hope that it's not something bad and he can come back. Now is a very important time of the year. You would like to see everybody healthy."

Both teams rested key players with no chance of moving up in the seedings.

Nashville sat defensemen Mark Eaton and Kimmo Timonen, forwards Scott Walker and Martin Erat, and had Mason between the pipes in place of Tomas Vokoun for the first time in 16 games.

The Avalanche played without top defenseman Rob Blake and left wing Steve Konowalchuk, and Tommy Salo was in goal instead of David Aebischer.

"It was a little bit of a yawner," Predators coach Barry Trotz said.

Colorado's John-Michael Liles got the scoring started, one-timing Matthew Barnaby's pass from the corner just 1:52 into the game.

Colorado kept up the pressure, outshooting Nashville 31-13 the first two periods, but Mason used good positioning and a few spectacular saves to keep the Predators close until Hartnell tied it with 10:31 left.

Salo was out of position when Hartnell scored on a give-and-go with Greg Johnson after Colorado's Karlis Skrastins failed to come back to a pass near Colorado's blue line.

Game notes


Colorado LW Alex Tanguay, out since March 14 with a sprained right knee, has started skating on his own, but hasn't been cleared for contact. ... Walker will be making his first playoff appearance in 574 games -- the league's second-longest streak. Guy Charron went 734 games without reaching the playoffs before retiring in 1981. ... The Avs aren't expecting C Andrei Nikolishin to be back for the start of the playoffs. He's missed 10 games with back spasms.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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