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Forsberg powers Predators; Stars claim first in Central

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FORSBERG HAS NATURAL HAT TRICK, PREDATORS EXTEND POINT STREAKS
Filip Forsberg (3-0-3) opened the scoring with three consecutive goals and the Nashville Predators held off a third-period rally to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2, extending their overall point streak to seven games (4-0-3) and their franchise-record road point streak to nine games (7-0-2). 

* At 29-21-11 (69 points), the Predators increased their lead to three points over the idle Colorado Avalanche (31-27-4, 66 points) for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. 

* Forsberg had the first regular-season hat trick of his NHL career and his fourth multigoal game of the season. He leads the Predators with 23 goals in 2015-16 (61 GP), including nine goals in his past nine games (9-3-12). 

* Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Forsberg became the fifth player in franchise history to register a natural hat trick

Natural Hat Tricks, Predators History 
Petr Tenkrat: Dec. 15, 2001 vs. CHI 
Steve Sullivan: Dec. 14, 2006 vs. OTT 
Martin Erat: March 4, 2008 at EDM 
James Neal: Oct. 23, 2014 vs. CHI 
Filip Forsberg: Feb. 23, 2016 vs. TOR

Video: NSH@TOR: Forsberg leads Preds to win with hat trick

* Elias adds that at 21 years, 194 days old, Forsberg became the youngest in franchise history to record a regular-season hat trick. 

* Carter Hutton (25 saves) extended his personal point streak to five games (4-0-1) and improved to 7-2-2 overall (2.16 goals-against average, .922 save percentage, two shutouts). 

BENN, STARS CLAIM FIRST IN CENTRAL DIVISION WITH WIN AGAINST JETS
Jamie Benn (2-0-2) scored twice, including the game-winning goal on a power-play with 5:52 left in regulation, to lead the Dallas Stars to a 5-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets and a 6-1-1 record in their past eight road games. 

* At 38-17-6 (82 points), the Stars leapfrogged the idle Chicago Blackhawks (38-19-5, 81 points) for sole possession of first place in the Central Division. 

* Benn had his sixth multigoal game of the season (61 GP) and ranks second in the NHL with 32-37-69 (Patrick Kane: 35-49-84). 

* John Klingberg (0-3-3) had his third three-point game of the season (also Dec. 8 vs. CAR: 0-3-3 and Nov. 14 vs. MIN: 1-2-3) and ranks second among all defensemen with 10-41-51 (Erik Karlsson: 11-54-65). 

* Antti Niemi (22 saves) improved to 5-2-0 in his past seven games and 22-11-5 overall (2.59 GAA, .907 save percentage, three shutouts). 

* The Stars improved to 10-3-1 in 14 all-time road games vs. WPG/ATL dating to Nov. 28, 1999 (WPG/ATL: 4-9-1). 

LIGHTNING, RED WINGS CLIMB ATLANTIC 
The Tampa Bay Lightning (34-22-4, 72 points) and Detroit Red Wings (30-20-11, 71 points), who rank second and third in the Atlantic Division, respectively, each earned victories on Tuesday night to inch closer to the idle Florida Panthers (34-18-7, 75 points) for first. 

* Cedric Paquette scored the game-winning goal on a penalty shot with 4.7 seconds left in the second period to guide the Lightning to their fourth consecutive victory, 2-1 against the Arizona Coyotes. It was Paquette's first shorthanded goal of the season and the third of his NHL career (also Jan. 29, 2015 vs. DET and Nov. 11, 2014 at CHI). Andrei Vasilevskiy (29 saves) improved to 8-1-0 in his past nine starts and 10-5-0 overall (2.75 GAA, .910 save percentage, one shutout). At 34-22-4 (72 points), the Lightning remained a point ahead of the Red Wings for second place in the Atlantic Division and climbed within three points of the idle Panthers for first. 

* Riley Sheahan scored the first shorthanded goal of his NHL career and added the decisive goal in the shootout to help the Red Wings defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 and extend their home point streak to six contests (5-0-1). Petr Mrazek (28 saves) denied both shooters in the shootout to stretch his personal home point streak to six games (5-0-1) and improved to 23-11-6 overall (2.07 GAA, .928 save percentage, four shutouts). At 30-20-11 (71 points), the Red Wings passed the idle Boston Bruins (32-22-6, 70 points) for sole possession of third in the Atlantic Division. They also kept pace with the Lightning and moved within four points of the Panthers for first.

Video: CBJ@DET: Marchenko sets up Sheahan to tie the game

DEVILS, HURRICANES AND SENATORS INCH CLOSER TO WILD CARD SPOT
The New Jersey Devils (30-24-7, 67 points), Carolina Hurricanes (28-23-10, 66 points) and Ottawa Senators (29-26-6, 64 points) were victorious on Tuesday and inched closer to the idle Pittsburgh Penguins (30-20-8, 68 points), who occupy the final wild card in the East. 

* Cory Schneider made 17 saves and Lee Stempniak scored the go-ahead goal at 18:06 of the second period against his former club as the Devils defeated the New York Rangers 5-2 and improved to 6-2-1 in their past nine home games. Schneider halted a personal three-game skid (0-3-0) and improved to 26-19-6 overall (2.06 GAA, .927 save percentage, four shutouts). Sergey Kalinin (1-1-2) and Adam Larsson (1-1-2) had a goal and an assist apiece. At 30-24-7 (67 points), the Devils climbed within a point of the Penguins for the final wild card in the East. 

* Cam Ward made 36 saves as the Hurricanes defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 and improved to 6-1-1 in their past eight home games. Ward has earned points in 11 of his past 12 appearances (7-1-4) and improved to 18-12-7 overall (2.33 GAA, .910 save percentage, one shutout). Joakim Nordstrom (1-0-1) has scored in three straight games (3-0-3), his second such run of the season (also Jan. 22-26: 3-0-3 in 3 GP). At 28-23-10 (66 points), the Hurricanes moved within two points of the Penguins for the final wild card in the East. 

* Craig Anderson made 31 saves and Zack Smith (1-1-2) scored the game-winning goal on a power-play at 5:53 of the second period to guide the Senators to a 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers, their fourth consecutive victory. Anderson has won four straight games, allowing two goals or fewer in each, and improved to 26-19-4 overall (2.72 GAA, .918 save percentage, three shutouts). Mark Stone (1-1-2) had a goal and an assist for his 13th multipoint game of the season (59 GP). At 29-26-6 (64 points), the Senators moved within four points of the Penguins for the final wild card in the East. 

AROUND THE RINKS 
* Jaroslav Halak made 30 saves in the New York Islanders' 4-1 win against the Minnesota Wild, giving New York a 6-1-1 record in its past eight contests, including an active four-game point streak (3-0-1). Halak improved to 3-1-0 in his past four games and 15-12-4 overall (2.30 GAA, .918 save percentage, three shutouts). Frans Nielsen (2-0-2) had his fourth multigoal game of the season, which included scoring the game-winner on a power-play at 12:15 of the first period. John Tavares (1-1-2) had his 13th multipoint game of the season (55 GP). Tavares has registered at least one point in eight of his past nine games (6-7-13) and leads the Islanders in goals (23) and points (49) this season (55 GP). At 32-19-7 (71 points), the Islanders increased their lead to three points over the Penguins (30-20-8, 68 points) for third place in the Metropolitan Division. They also moved within three points of the Rangers (34-20-6, 74 points) for second. 

* Jonathan Quick made 22 saves and Anze Kopitar scored the game-winning goal on a power-play at 17:27 of the second period to lift the Los Angeles Kings past the Calgary Flames 2-1 for their second straight win on the heels of a three-game slide (0-2-1). Quick improved to 30-15-3 this season (2.17 GAA, .921 save percentage, three shutouts) and ranks third among all goaltenders with 30 wins (Braden Holtby: 38 and Corey Crawford: 32). Quick also reached the 30-win mark for the second straight year and the fifth time in his nine NHL seasons. Kopitar leads the Kings with 18-34-52 this season (58 GP). At 35-20-4 (74 points), the Kings increased their lead to four points over the idle Anaheim Ducks (31-19-8, 70 points) for first place in the Pacific Division.

Video: CGY@LAK: Kopitar slams it home on PP to regain lead

MILESTONES & BENCHMARKS 
* The Lightning played their 1,800th regular-season game in franchise history. 

* Jets forward Drew Stafford registered the 200th assist of his NHL career (170-200-370). 

* Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula (700) and Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (400) each skated in milestone games. 

* Senators forward Nick Paul, the 101st pick in the 2013 NHL Draft (DAL), scored the first goal of his NHL career (4 GP). 

LOOSE PUCKS 
Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere saw his point streak end at 15 games (5-13-18), the longest in NHL history by a rookie defenseman and the longest in franchise history by any rookie. … Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal scored the game-winning goal to stretch his point streak to six games (4-4-8). … The Hurricanes improved to 6-0-1 in their past seven home games vs. PHI dating to Oct. 6, 2013 (PHI: 1-4-2). … The Predators improved to 4-0-1 in their past five games vs. TOR dating to Nov. 21, 2013 (TOR: 1-4-0). … Maple Leafs forward Josh Leivo (1-0-1) has scored in a career-high three consecutive games (3-0-3). … The Lightning improved to 6-1-1 in their past eight home games vs. ARI/PHX dating to Nov. 11, 2002 (ARI/PHX: 2-6-0). … Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (1-0-1) has scored in four consecutive games (4-1-5) and leads them with 26 goals this season (60 GP). … Stars forward Jason Spezza (1-0-1) has 13-32-45 in 38 career games vs. ATL/WPG. … Stars forward Tyler Seguin (0-1-1) ranks third in the NHL with 31-35-66 this season (61 GP). … Jets captain Andrew Ladd (1-0-1) has scored in three straight games (4-0-4). … Oilers forward Connor McDavid (0-1-1) has 5-11-16 in 11 games since returning from injury. … Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau (0-1-1) stretched his point streak to five games (1-6-7). … Thanks to virtual reality, the NHL is now able to give fans an experience that will make them feel like they are sitting in the stands or along the boards for its marquee events. Producing this content for the NHL is Jaunt, a pioneering company that specializes in creative storytelling for cinematic virtual reality. … The Capitals acquired defenseman Mike Weber from the Sabres for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. … Blues forward Ryan Reaves will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Wednesday for an incident with Sharks defenseman Matt Tennyson. … The Kings honored former forward Mike Donnellyin a pre-game ceremony at Staples Center. … The Red Wings honored former defenseman and recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Nicklas Lidstrom in a pre-game ceremony at Joe Louis Arena.

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