Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
  • Home
National Hockey League

Preds battle for home ice in Colorado

(Sports Network) - The Nashville Predators will try to clinch home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs tonight when they visit the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

The Predators enter the final day of the regular season as the fourth seed in the West and they can officially lock up that spot over Detroit with a single point in tonight's game.

Nashville will play either Detroit or Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. The Red Wings, who are one point behind Nashville and two points in front of the Blackhawks, are hosting Chicago in the regular-season finale for both teams on Saturday afternoon.

Tonight's opponent offers a good opportunity for Nashville to get the point, should the Preds still need it after Detroit and Chicago face off in the afternoon. Nashville has won eight straight against the Avalanche overall and the Predators have taken three in a row in Denver.

The Predators have won two straight and three of their last four games and are coming off Thursday's 2-0 decision in Dallas. Pekka Rinne made 28 saves to record his fifth shutout of the season, as Nashville officially eliminated the Stars from playoff contention.

"It felt good out there tonight," said Rinne. "The guys made it pretty easy for me. The first two periods I really didn't have to do much at all."

Patric Hornqvist had a goal and an assist for the Predators, while Francis Bouillon also lit the lamp.

Thursday's win allowed Nashville to close the regular season with a 26-10-5 record at home. The Predators are 21-16-3 as the visiting team.

Colorado was still hanging onto its slim playoff hopes when it hosted Columbus on Thursday, but the Avalanche were officially eliminated from postseason contention with a 5-2 loss to the Blue Jackets. Cam Atkinson netted his first career hat trick to lead Columbus to the easy win.

"The bottom line is we weren't good enough," said Avs forward Milan Hejduk. "We came out and played well and knew they'd been playing well lately. But that's no excuse for us. We had chances, but not enough of them and we were a bit tight."

David Jones and Paul Stastny scored for Colorado, losers in five of their last six games, and Semyon Varlamov gave up four goals on 27 shots.

The Avalanche, who are 22-16-2 as the host this season, will miss the playoffs for the second straight spring and for the third time in four seasons.

04/07 11:30:23 ET

Part of the Tribune family of products

© 2013 TAMPA MEDIA GROUP, LLC