Avalanche take 3-0 series lead over Preds with 7-3 win

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gabriel Landeskog scored twice in the second period, and the top-seeded Colorado Avalanche beat the Nashville Predators 7-3 Saturday for a commanding 3-0 lead in their first-round Western Conference series.

Landeskog also had two assists. Nazem Kadri and Devon Toews each added a goal and an assist, and Artturi Lehkonen and Nathan MacKinnon scored a power-play goal apiece as Colorado went 4 for 5 on the man advantage to push Nashville to the brink of elimination. Cale Makar had three assists.

Valeri Nichushkin added an empty-net goal with 2:46 left. The Avs had a couple missed opportunities once Nashville pulled goalie Connor Ingram with more than 4 minutes remaining.

Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper was hurt with a minute left in the first period. Pavel Francouz replaced him and made 20 saves in his seventh playoff appearance of his career.

Matt Duchene, Eeli Tolvanen and captain Roman Josi each scored goals for Nashville. Alexandre Carrier had two assists.

This is the first time the Predators have trailed 0-3 in a series, and they will try to avoid being swept for the first time in their 15 playoff appearances in Game 4 on Monday night.

Colorado has simply dominated the Predators, outscoring them 16-6 with a 137-81 difference in shots through the first three games.

Lehkonen got the Avs on the board first yet again midway through the first on yet another Nashville penalty, deflecting a slap shot by Toews. MacKinnon made it 2-0 just 21 seconds into the Avs’ next man advantage at 16:07.

Duchene got Nashville on the board, scoring on a wrister at 17:37. Then Predators center Ryan Johansen’s stick caught Kuemper’s face, and Francouz replaced him in net.

The Predators managed to score twice on the man advantage in the second with Tolvanen scoring from the dot in the left face-off circle at 5:41. Landeskog beat Ingram with a backhander on the man advantage midway through the second for a 3-2 lead, then Josi tied it with a slap shot from the blue line at 12:11.

Landeskog scored his second at 14:02 to put Colorado ahead to stay.

The Avs got another man advantage when Nashville lost its challenge of Landeskog’s goal for Lehkonen interfering with Ingram after Predators forward Mikael Granlund blamed for the contact. When Ingram played the puck behind the net, lost the puck and Kadri scored into the open net just 39 seconds later for a 5-3 lead.

Toews padded the lead with a shot from the top of the left circle midway through the third.

KUEMPER HURT

The Avalanche goalie was hurt with 56.6 seconds left in the first period when Johansen’s stick caught him through the mask. Kuemper yanked the mask off and was down on the ice holding his head before skating to the locker room holding a towel to his face. He was 37-12-4 for Colorado during the regular season and won the first two games of this series.

ROOKIE GOALIE

Ingram became the first rookie in Nashville history to start a playoff game in Game 2’s overtime loss on Thursday night. His 49 saves tied for most by a goalie in his first postseason start in the last 10 years and tied for the fourth-most saves by a Predators goalie in franchise history in the playoffs. Ingram stopped 79 of 83 shots faced over the first two games of this series after coming off the bench.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press

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