Joe Mahoney/Associated Press
Joe Mahoney/Associated Press
DENVER – It took a disputed goal by Matt Duchene for the Colorado Avalanche to snap their string of nine consecutive losses to the Nashville Predators.
Colorado’s star looked offside on his second-period goal in the Avalanche’s 6-5 win in a Monday matinee, but the officials ruled Nashville had brought the puck back into their zone.
“The league already verified that it should have been an offside,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said shortly after the game.
“The explanation from the crew here was that we passed it back. We didn’t pass it back. That’s why they didn’t blow the whistle. The league’s already talked to us about it. There’s no fix. It’s just one of those things. Everybody has a bad day.”
Including Nashville goaltender Chris Mason, who allowed six goals on just 18 shots before being replaced by Pekka Rinne, who turned back all 10 shots he faced over the final 24 minutes as the Predators made a furious rally from a three-goal deficit but came up just short.
When the Predators pulled their goalie and Shea Weber scored with 1:18 left to make it a one-goal game, Duchene’s disputed goal loomed ever larger.
P.A. Parenteau had sent the puck up the ice, and it deflected off Nashville defenseman Scott Hannan’s stick and Predators forward Craig Smith’s left skate on its way to a surprised Duchene, who looked over his shoulder before gathering it in and scoring as both Hannan and Smith pulled up.
Even Duchene expected to hear a whistle for being offside.
When he didn’t, “I was shocked,” Duchene said. “Even after I shot it, I thought maybe I missed something. Like I said, I didn’t see the play. It might have been a good call by the linesman, but from what I heard, it wasn’t.”
This was one of the few breaks the Avalanche have caught this season.
“We’re not complaining, that’s for sure,” Duchene said.
The Predators did.
Trotz vehemently argued the score, which put Colorado ahead 3-1.
By game’s end, he had cooled off, resigned to the bad call that proved so costly.
“That’s part of life; that’s part of the game,” Trotz said. “Certain things are going to happen, and you can’t control them. There was nothing we could control about it; we just had to play through it. We didn’t. It threw us off for a bit.”
Trotz was kicking himself for not pulling Mason at that point instead of later in the period following back-to-back goals by Paul Stastny and Jamie McGinn that came just 13 seconds apart.
Those scores made it 6-3 and forced Trotz to summon Rinne, who is 6-1-1 in his last eight starts, with 6 minutes left in the second period.
“We stopped playing for two minutes, and they got two goals,” Trotz said. “The offside was a good play by Duchene. I probably should have made the change then, and I didn’t. That’s on me. We fought back, but we were a little bit short.”
Duchene also had two assists in helping the Avalanche to a rare win over the Predators, who had outscored Colorado 34-14 while sweeping the season series each of the last two years. His last assist, to McGinn, proved the difference.
“It was a game of some crazy bounces (Monday),” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. “I think the bigger play though was the one when he set up McGinn when he was able to out-battle one of their defenders and come up with that loose puck and make that play to McGinn. That was a huge goal.
“It was one of those games (Monday) where there were a lot of funny things going on.”
The Predators pulled to 6-4 heading into the third period when Jonathon Blum’s shot bounced off Jan Hejda’s skate and scooted past Semyon Varlamov, who was coming off a 50-save game in a loss at Edmonton on Saturday night and saved 33 shots in this game.
Mason also allowed goals by Aaron Palushaj, Tyson Barrie and Chuck Kobasew.
“I just didn’t make saves when I needed to make saves,” Mason said. “They came hard to the net, and they really work hard. They’re a good offensive team, and they caught us a little off guard the first part of the game.”