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Franson's late goal leads Predators to 5-3 win over struggling Avalanche

The Canadian Press
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Colorado Avalanche center Peter Forsberg (21), of Sweden, jumps over the boards to start a shift in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco looks on. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) Author: The Hockey News

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Franson's late goal leads Predators to 5-3 win over struggling Avalanche

The Canadian Press
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Cody Franson's late goal helped secure the Nashville Predators a 5-3 win over Colorado on Saturday night. Almost as big a thrill for Franson, though, was watching Avalanche star Peter Forsberg play.

"He was always one of the best players in the game, and I think he always will be," said Franson, who grew up watching Forsberg a lot.

Franson scored with 2:30 left to help Nashville secure its second straight win and third in four games.

The Avalanche have lost seven straight—including two since Forsberg rejoined the team—for their longest skid since the franchise relocated to Colorado for the 1995-96 season.

"We shot the puck well, put three past one of the best goalies in the league," Colorado forward Matt Duchene said. "It's tough.

"We just can't catch a break. This is one of the most frustrating things I've been a part of."

Martin Erat had a goal and two assists for Nashville, which outshot Colorado 39-18. David Legwand added a goal and an assist, and Patric Hornqvist and Shea Weber scored a goal apiece.

Mike Fisher, newly acquired from the Ottawa Senators, drew an assist in his Nashville debut on David Legwand's empty-net goal with 45.2 seconds left. His wife, country singer Carrie Underwood, watched from the stands.

"You always want to win that first one, and it feels really good to get that one,' Fisher said. "That felt pretty good.

"Just trying to fit in as much as I can and learn from the other guys."

Duchene scored in the third, Kevin Porter had a goal and an assist, and David Jones also had a goal for Colorado.

Forsberg took two shots and played 17 minutes 32 seconds. But the 37-year-old Swede also was called for two penalties in the second period.

The 2003 Hart Trophy winner who helped the Avalanche to two Stanley Cups during his first stint with the team wasn't very happy with his play despite playing his second game in as many nights.

"If we would have won the game, then maybe. But we got a bad break there at the end, and they scored one," Forsberg said. "You should never be happy when you lose."

The Avalanche led 1-0 and 3-2 with the last advantage coming when Duchene scored his 21st on a slapshot at 2:54 of the third. But Nashville tied it again when Hornqvist took a pass from Legwand and scored his 17th, sending a wrist shot past Peter Budaj at 4:11.

Franson then had the go-ahead goal, snapping off a shot at the blue-line that went through Budaj's legs.

"Both times they scored, we responded really quickly," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "A real good job."

Porter put Colorado up 1-0 at 11:05 in the first when he took a pass from Paul Stastny and backhanded it past Pekka Rinne. But Weber answered 11 seconds later.

Nashville went ahead 2-1 when Erat scored on the power play at 4:36 of the second. He went to the crease and kept poking away until he pushed the puck past Budaj.

Jones responded about five minutes later, firing a wrist shot past Rinne's left skate to tie it again.

Forsberg had a shot on goal during Colorado's first power play in the second but was called for interference. He was whistled later for hooking centre Nick Spaling.

Forsberg looked winded as he sat in the penalty box after the second infraction.

"I thought we ran out of gas a little bit towards the end of the game, but other than that it's tough," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "Back-to-back games, first time back with a team, first time back in the NHL.

"It's not easy, but certainly I thought the effort was there. We tried to manage his shifts appropriately so that he wasn't caught out there too long."

Trotz coached Forsberg for 17 games in Nashville in 2007 after the Predators traded for him. He was impressed by what he saw.

"He's still hard to handle," Trotz said. "It's amazing. You don't play, and you're that hard to handle in the best league in the world.

"I've got a lot of admirationfor Peter Forsberg. He's one of those rare, rare athletes that you don't see too often."

NOTES—Nashville notched its ninth sellout this season. ... Weber has six goals and 14 assists in his last 20 games. ... Nashville, with the NHL's third-stingiest, penalty-killing unit, has allowed only one goal in its last 23 short-handed situations. ... Colorado D Adam Foote missed a third straight game with a leg injury. ... The Avalanche are 3-6 in the second half of back-to-back games. ... The franchise record for consecutive losses is a 14-game skid between Oct. 21 and Nov. 19, 1990, when the Avalanche were the Quebec Nordiques.

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Franson's late goal leads Predators to 5-3 win over struggling Avalanche