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Tyson Barrie's late goal spoils Ryan Johansen's first game with Predators; Avalanche win 5-3

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DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche have gone into postseason mode early. It paid off with a big win against Nashville.

put Colorado ahead midway through the third period and the Avalanche beat the Predators 5-3 on Friday night.

had a goal and an assist in his first game with the Predators since they traded for him Wednesday.

He stepped into the middle of a January game that had a playoff feel to it. The Avalanche have climbed out of an early season slump by going 9-2-2 over the last four weeks and pulled even with the Predators for fifth in the Central Division with 45 points. Nashville has played one fewer game.

"It felt like a playoff atmosphere," Colorado forward said. "I think both teams knew what was on the line. We've been scratching quite a bit here the last little while to get back in the playoff picture. That was huge for us."

Barrie gave Colorado another big win when beat goalie with a shot from the top of the slot with 9 minutes left. It was his third goal in three games.

"The puck went to (defenseman Nick) Holden and their guy went back to the bench for a stick," Barrie said. "I was screaming for it and he made a nice pass to me and I tried to get it on net. We'd done a good job wearing them out."

, , and also scored and made 19 saves for the Avalanche.

"That was a playoff game tonight," Colorado coach said. "The way our conference is, and especially our division, it's going to be playoff hockey in January."

and also scored for Nashville and Rinne made 22 saves.

Nashville sent defenseman to Columbus for Johansen. The young center was put in the middle of the first line with and , giving the Predators some firepower atop the lineup.

Johansen came through with two points but Nashville lost for the fifth time in its last seven games.

"He was really good," Nashville coach said.

Nashville pulled Rinne with 2:02 left and the Predators swarmed Varlamov, but Skille sealed it with a goal into the empty net with 2 seconds left.

"To think, a month ago we were nine points behind these guys," Barrie said. "It says a lot about our club and what we have been able to do. A lot of season left, but I think we're building towards something and we're getting better every night."

Johansen made an immediate impact when he scored a power-play goal on his first shot. His seventh of the season gave Nashville a 1-0 lead 2:35 into the game.

He also assisted on Forsberg's goal late in the second that tied the game at 3.

"It's definitely nice to get something early like that," Johansen said. "Hopefully, I can use that as some confidence and move forward in shooting the puck. It's too bad we couldn't find a way to win this one. It would have been a lot cooler."

Colorado took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission on a late goals by Iginla and McLeod, but Nashville tied it 2:45 into the second on Ellis' goal.

Landeskog made it 3-2 with his 10th of the season at 7:40. It was his second straight game with a goal.

NOTES: Iginla's goal was No. 601 and tied him with Jari Kurri for 18th all-time. ... Colorado D (knee) is expected to miss at least one more week. He was injured in Monday's win over Los Angeles. ... Nashville D was in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 28. ... Avalanche D cleared waivers but has yet to be assigned to San Antonio of the AHL.

PHOTO: Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) lunges for the puck against Colorado Avalanche right wing Jack Skille (8) as Predators left wing James Neal (18) skates into the play in the second period of an NHL hockey game on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) lunges for the puck against Colorado Avalanche right wing Jack Skille (8) as Predators left wing James Neal (18) skates into the play in the second period of an NHL hockey game on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla (12) celebrates with Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators in the first period of  an NHL hockey game on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Denver.  Predators defenseman Shea Weber (6) skates away. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
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