ashton-remaxIt was stressful for the last minute and a half, but the Nashville Predators held on to win 4-3 over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

The game was back-and-forth with scoring through the game. Each time the Predators scored, Colorado answered. Nashville was able to lock it down in the third period to notch the victory. Viktor Arvidsson opened the scoring in the first period on the breakaway, but Nathan MacKinnon answered for the Avalanche exactly two minutes later.

“Sometimes it’s going to happen,” said James Neal on the back-and-forth action. “I think what makes our team good, is that we can play in all different ways. Pekka made some big saves for us, he always does, especially at the end there when they were pressing.”

Neal returned to action after missing four games on injured reserve and tallied his 11th goal of the season in the first period.

“It’s obviously a good feeling when you get back to playing with your teammates,” said Neal. “It makes it a little easier when you’re on home ice; it feels good to be back and good to win.”

The Predators took command early in the third period and locked it down. On a 5-on-3 power play that carried over from the second period, Roman Josi scored his fourth of the season to give Nashville the 4-3 lead.

“I thought we did a real good job in the third period,” said head coach Peter Laviolette. “The game was almost the exact opposite the other night, when we were chasing the game the whole time. Tonight we were able to get a lead, but then came back and that happened a few times; I think getting that power-play goal to start gave us a lead; I thought we did a good job – played a smart game, a strong game; Pekks made big saves and we need him to make them, but it was a good third period.”

On that goal, Ryan Johansen also picked up his 12 assist of the season. He’s now tied with P.K. Subban and Mike Ribeiro for the team lead in point at 17.

Tuesday night’s game was already the third match-up of the season between Colorado and Nashville. The Predators have won all three meetings by a combined score of 14-7, and they won’t meet again until January 14th in Denver. Games against division rivals are much-needed wins, and the Predators are owning the Avalanche this season.

“These are the wins we need,” said Pekka Rinne. “We need to shut teams down at the end of the games. Even the last few seconds when we took a penalty, the team did a really good job. That was a good win and the last three games against Colorado have been good for us; these are big points for us.”

Nashville now heads on the road for two games to face Dallas and Arizona before coming back home to two more games against Central Division opponents plus Jimmy Vesey and the New York Rangers.