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Feb 24, 11:01 PM EST

Predators beat Avalanche 5-2, pad NHL's best home record


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Calle Jarnkrok, Craig Smith, Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg scored to help the Nashville Predators beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game homestand.

Pekka Rinne made 18 saves in his NHL-best 35th win, and the Predators padded their lead atop the NHL standings with 89 points. Nashville also clinched the season series with its Central Division rival at 3-1 with a game remaining.

Nathan MacKinnon and John Mitchell scored for Colorado, which had won two in a row.

Semyon Varlamov started his 17th straight game, but the Avalanche goalie didn't finish. He was replaced by Reto Berra after giving up four goals on 29 shots.

Colorado coach Patrick Roy pulled Berra during a power play, and Eric Nystrom scored short-handed into an empty net at 8:28 of the third period to make it 5-1.

The Predators just went 1-1-1 on a road swing and required a shootout for that lone win at Buffalo on Sunday. A return to home ice was all they needed to pick up their play Tuesday as they improved to a league-best 26-3-1 at home.

Colorado came in having won four of five, with the Avalanche offense scoring 19 goals in that span. MacKinnon, who had his first career hat trick Sunday in a win over Tampa Bay, scored at 3:57 on a slap shot for a 1-0 lead and his 100th career point.

Nashville answered right back 16 seconds later as Jarnkrok got the puck off a faceoff and took off on a breakaway, beating Varlamov with a wrister for his sixth goal this season.

Not even Nashville playing a big chunk of the game without captain Shea Weber helped the Avalanche. Weber took exception to Gabriel Landeskog leveling Josi with a big hit and started a fight that featured several big punches. Weber wound up with an instigator penalty, a fighting major and a game misconduct.

Smith put Nashville ahead to stay with a slap shot from the right circle that beat Varlamov just under his stick hand for a 2-1 lead at 4:32 of the second. Josi made it 3-1 at 11:06 when he flipped a wrister from the blue line that hit off the right post and into the net for his 11th goal of the season.

The Predators scored again on Forsberg's slap shot 54 seconds into the third when he got the puck off a faceoff, spun and shot. Nystrom padded the lead with Smith in the penalty box for high-sticking, and Roy sent Berra back onto the ice.

Colorado managed a power-play goal when Mitchell scored from in front with 1:19 left.

NOTES: Nashville is 26-6-2 when outshooting an opponent, tops in the NHL. ... Jarnkrok's goal was his first in 19 games. ... Smith has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his last six games. ... MacKinnon has at least a point in six of his last seven games (four goals, four assists). ... Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly has six points in his last six games, all on assists. ... Varlamov tied Mario Gosselin for fourth on Colorado's games played list at 190.

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