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Smyth, Laperriere score in 3rd period to push Avs by Preds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- From the opening faceoff it was apparent
the first team to score was going to win.

Neither team scored until the third period, before Ryan Smyth and Ian Laperriere led the Avalanche to a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

"I thought it was a very complete game," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a heck of a battle. ... I know there were a lot of scoring chances, but every time the puck was
challenged. Every scrum was intense. The first goal was a big
one."

Smyth broke the scoreless tie at 4:58 of the third, firing a
slap shot from outside of the left circle that went into the net
and between the legs of Predators goalie Chris Mason.

"Obviously, getting a lead at that stage of the game was
important to us," Quenneville said. "We needed a road win."

Laperriere scored from the front edge of the crease at 16:45.

"I just stayed in from of the net and Jaroslav Hlinka gave it
to me there," Laperriere said. "I just chipped it in. It was a
heck of a play."

Colorado goalie Peter Budaj came within 21 seconds of his first
shutout of the season before Alexander Radulov beat him to the
stick side from the middle of the slot. The Predators also had
another close play in the closing seconds as J.P. Dumont missed
Jason Arnott with a pass as he stood in front of the net.

"It would have been nice to get a shutout, but the most
important thing is that Nashville did not score a second goal"
Budaj said. "I think they had a big chance right there at the
end."

Neither team scored in the first two periods as the Avalanche
outshot the Predators 21-16.

"The puck just isn't bouncing our way right now," Nashville's
Vernon Fiddler said. "We have to keep moving forward and keep
doing the things we're doing and the puck will start finding the
back of the net."

It appeared that the Predators had scored at the 12:24 mark of
the second period.

Radek Bonk sent a backhand into the crease that bounced off
Budaj. Bonk shoveled the rebound between the pads of Budaj, but the
goal was waved off because the play had been whistled dead. A video
review confirmed the call.

"I'm going to have to get clarification on that," Predators
coach Barry Trotz said. "They said they were in the process of
blowing the whistle, and I was told there was a push of the goalie.
There are a number of different scenarios, but if you really look
at it, the puck goes in there very quickly.

"Radek really had nothing to do with the goal other than
putting the puck on the net. But they said they blew the whistle.
I'm still not understanding the rule."

Game notes
Smyth's goal ended a five-period scoreless streak for the
Avalanche against the Predators and Mason this season. ... Martin Erat, the Predators' leader in points and assists missed the game with a neck injury. ... The Predators and Avalanche face each other
again in Denver on Saturday night. Scott Nichol will return to the
Predators lineup Saturday after serving a five-game suspension.