The Predators came into the game seventh in the Western Conference, only four points behind sixth-place Colorado, and they now have earned five of six points possible with one game remaining in this last four-game homestand before the Olympic break.
Jason Arnott had a goal and three assists, and Steve Sullivan had a power-play goal and an assist. Joel Ward also had a goal, and Shea Weber added two assists as Nashville won the season series with Colorado 3-1-0.
Cody McLeod, Matt Duchene and Justin Mercier scored for Colorado, which has lost four of five coming off a season-best six-game winning streak.
Colorado had killed 24 straight penalties coming in and stretched that to 25 before Nashville scored three goals on the next five man advantages.
McLeod put Colorado up 1-0 at 16:39 of the first period after Nashville failed to keep the puck in its zone. Chris Stewart corralled the puck and brought it up the right side before passing cross-ice to McLeod, who put a snap shot past Pekka Rinne.
The Predators were coming off the longest shootout in franchise history, going 10 rounds with 20 shooters in a 1-0 loss Tuesday night to Phoenix. Nashville outshot the Avalanche 14-8 in the first and kept it up in the second but kept having trouble finding the net.
Not even 72 seconds of a 5-on-3 helped with fans screaming for the Predators to shoot. Kyle Quincey came out of the penalty box, then Arnott fired a slap shot from the blue line at the right half boards that Hornqvist redirected to tie it at 1 at 6:46 of the second.
Only 63 seconds later, Ward backhanded the rebound of Jerred Smithson's shot past Craig Anderson for a 2-1 lead.
Colorado took a timeout at 11:09 of the second, and Duchene tied it at 2 with his 18th of the season from the slot on a power-play at 13:59.
Again, Nashville answered, this time even more quickly.
Arnott scored from in front 23 seconds later to put the Predators ahead to stay. Hornqvist tipped in Arnott's slap shot at 19:19 to pad the lead. Arnott originally had been awarded the Predators' first goal, and fans thought the captain had a hat trick and started tossing caps onto the ice before the announcement that Hornqvist got his 23rd this season.
Sullivan added his 11th with a slap shot from the right dot at 10:31 of the third. Mercier scored his first this season on a rush from in front at 18:42.
NOTES: Linesman Steve Barton left the game midway through the first period after tangling feet with Nashville defenseman Alexander Sulzer, which sent Barton crashing backward onto the ice. ... Hornqvist, a Swedish Olympian, is Nashville's top goal scorer, and he also leads with eight power-play goals. ... Nashville defenseman Cody Franson was a scratch. He will miss a couple weeks after breaking a rib in Tuesday night's shootout loss to Phoenix. ... The Avalanche had killed 37 of 38 penalties over the previous nine games.