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Avs try to continue scoring surge in Nashville

Feb 24, 2015 - 4:07 PM ( - Though February didn't get start off so great for the Colorado Avalanche, a red-hot offense has the club looking to finish off the month strong.

The Avalanche take aim at a third straight win on Tuesday night when they visit the NHL-leading Nashville Predators.

Colorado lost four straight in regulation from Feb. 5-12, but has countered with a victory in four of its past five games. The Avalanche have scored 18 goals in those four wins and sit six points back of a wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Forward Nathan MacKinnon was the latest Avalanche to get his offensive game going as he notched his first career hat trick in Sunday's 5-4 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 19-year-old hadn't scored since Jan. 17, but became the youngest player in Avalanche history to record a three-goal game.

Alex Tanguay's tally 7:20 into the third period stood as the game winner with Tampa Bay scoring with 8:17 to play and then again with 1:02 to go to account for the final margin.

"It got stressful at the end with their comeback," said MacKinnon. "I was really fortunate to get the hat trick. Goals haven't been coming easy for me this year."

Matt Duchene scored, Ryan O'Reilly had two assists and Gabriel Landeskog notched an assist to give him five goals and two helpers over a six-game point streak.

Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves in his 16th consecutive start. He is 7-3-1 lifetime versus the Predators with a 2.87 goals against average, .904 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 meetings.

Colorado will try to win three in a row for the first time since Jan. 6-10 and figures to be tested tonight by Nashville, which is 7-1-1 in its past nine games and leads the NHL with 87 points. The Predators have a seven-point cushion atop the Central Division and lead the Anaheim Ducks by four points for the top spot in the overall standings.

Nashville avoided its first three-game slide of the season on Sunday with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Filip Forsberg had the deciding tally in the tiebreaker and Carter Hutton made 16 saves in his first start since Feb. 8.

Mike Ribeiro scored on the power play with 4:17 left in the third to force overtime for the Predators as he put home a rebound off a Cody Franson shot.

"As a group, we felt pretty confident in the way we were playing tonight, and that if we kept playing that way, we'd give ourselves chances," said Franson.

Nashville reached 40 wins in just 60 games, the quickest the Predators have reached that mark in a season in team history.

The Preds begin a three-game homestand looking for a sixth straight win as the host and figure to start Pekka Rinne tonight. Nashville's No. 1 goaltender is 12-4-2 with a 2.20 GAA and .922 save percentage lifetime versus the Avalanche in 20 games (18 starts).

Nashville is 2-1-0 versus Colorado this season and 8-1-1 in the previous 10 meetings at home. Ribeiro has five assists in three games versus the Avs this season, while Forsberg has two goals and an assist.