Duchene scores in shootout, Predators rally to beat Avs 5-4

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DENVER (AP) — Matt Duchene scored the lone goal of the shootout and David Rittich stopped all three attempts as the Nashville Predators rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 on Thursday night.

Duchene also scored in regulation, along with Ryan Johansen, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm to help the Predators move into the first wild-card spot with a game remaining.

Rittich stopped 42 shots as he stepped in for injured goaltender Juuse Saros. Rittich came up big in the shootout, thwarting Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri.

Cale Makar, Logan O’Connor, Artturi Lehkonen and J.T. Compher scored for Colorado, the top seed in the Western Conference. By gaining a point, the Avalanche now have 119 and broke the franchise mark (118) held by the 2000-01 team that went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Colorado's shootout loss allowed the Florida Panthers to secure the Presidents' Trophy and home ice throughout their playoff run.

Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves for the Avalanche.

Trailing by as many as two goals, Ekholm tied it up at 4-apiece early in the third period. It set the stage for Duchene, who was drafted third overall by Colorado in 2009 and scored 178 goals over nine seasons with the Avalanche.

The showdown within the game was between Makar and Josi. They're the leading candidates for the Norris Trophy, which goes to the league’s top defenseman. Makar leads all defense with 28 goals. Josi had a nifty, coast-to-coast goal — he actually ended up inside the net as well — and an assist to increase his lead to 95 points among defensemen.

O’Connor gave the Avalanche a 3-1 in the first period on a quirky goal. He lined the puck into Josi and all the Predators looked all around to locate it. The puck dropped to the ice and O’Connor banked it in off Rittich.

INJURY UPDATES, AVALANCHE

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog was on the ice Thursday morning wearing a red, noncontact jersey as he recovers from knee surgery. He’s on pace to join the team in Game 1 of the playoffs. ... Rantanen was back after missing four games with an illness.

INJURY UPDATES, PREDATORS

Nashville D Jeremy Lauzon (lower body) skated Thursday morning, on his 25th birthday. “He’s trending in the direction to be playable real soon,” Predators coach John Hynes said. ... Hynes said there's no timetable for Saros' return after he suffered a left leg injury Tuesday. ... D Mark Borowiecki took a puck off his left leg in the third period and gingerly made his way to the bench.

MAKAR'S MARK

With his goal in the first period, Makar became the fifth defenseman in the last 30 years to score 28 goals in a season, according to NHL Stats. He joined the company of Brent Burns (29 in ‘16-17), Mike Green (31, ’08-09), Al MacInnis (28, ‘93-94) and Kevin Hatcher (34 in ’92-93).

UP NEXT

Predators: At Arizona on Friday.

Avalanche: At Minnesota on Friday. The Avalanche are 8-1-1 in the second game of a back-to-back.

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

Pat Graham, The Associated Press

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