The Colorado Avalanche still have plenty of work to do to catch the Northwest Division leaders, but another victory to open their homestand has coach Joe Sacco's team heading in the right direction.
The Avalanche try to win three straight for the first time in more than a month Thursday night when they face the Nashville Predators, who are making a run at first place in their division.
Colorado (24-16-6) trails Vancouver by 11 points in the Northwest, but the Avalanche picked up a key 4-3 win over the Canucks on Tuesday when David Jones scored off a carom in overtime. Colorado dropped the first four meetings this season, but it's won three of four overall while Vancouver has stumbled somewhat of late, losing three of four.
"At the end of the day, in the playoffs, that's one of the teams that we're going to have to get through, so it was real good to win tonight," said Jones, who has two power-play overtime goals this month.
The Avs also got a solid performance from defenseman John-Michael Liles, who scored a goal and matched a career high with three points. He has four points in the last two games after totaling four assists in his previous 17.
"We're getting the power-play back on track and I think we had a pretty good start to the season and we tapered off a bit," Liles, who had three assists against Nashville last season, told the Avalanche's official website. "I think getting Stewie (forward Chris Stewart) back (on Friday following a 21-game absence with a fractured hand) in front helps and having his big body definitely helped."
While the Avalanche have gone 4 for 7 on the power play in the last two games and scored a season-high three times with the man advantage Tuesday, they are killing off a league-worst 68.0 percent of their penalties at home.
Colorado, which last won three in a row during a season-high six-game run from Dec. 10-19, has gone 3-0-1 in its last four home games versus Nashville.
The Predators (25-15-6) have also been hot, winning of eight of 10 to move within six points of Central-leading Detroit.
Nashville improved to 1-1 on its five-game trip with a 5-2 victory over Phoenix on Tuesday. J.P. Dumont recorded his first hat trick since Nov. 12, 2001, giving him five goals in two games.
Dumont, who didn't score a goal in his previous 17 games before the last two, credits the offensive surge to coach Barry Trotz's decision to play him on a line with young forwards Chris Mueller and Matt Halischuk. Those two have totaled five assists in the last two games.
"It's a lot of fun," Dumont said. "My first goal tonight was just an unbelievable forecheck by those two guys. I just find the open spot."
Continued production from that trio could help make the Predators tough to beat the way Pekka Rinne has played.
Rinne made 32 saves Tuesday and has gone 7-1-0 with a 1.49 goals-against average in his last eight starts.
Patric Hornqvist, who scored Nashville's other two goals Tuesday, has a pair of two-goal games in his last four versus Colorado.
Craig Anderson started all four games against the Predators last season, going 1-2-1 with a 3.23 GAA. Backup Peter Budaj is 6-3-0 with a 2.18 GAA and one shutout in nine career games against Nashville.