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Forsberg's two goals lead Predators past Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- If Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg looked sheepish after getting credit for a goal a Vancouver Canucks defenseman put into his own net Sunday, you should have seen him when asked about taking the NHL rookie scoring lead.

After tying the game on a lucky power-play goal, Forsberg scored his second 6:42 into the second period and set up Colin Wilson's insurance goal with 1:33 left to lead the Predators to a 3-1 win against the Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Forsberg now sits atop the rookie scoring race with 11 points.

"That's nothing I really pay attention to, it's more you [media] guys reminding me of it," Forsberg said, quickly deflecting credit for his play. "If I can contribute to the team in the points department, I am more than happy to do that."

Playing on a new top line with James Neal and Mike Ribeiro, the 20-year-old Swedish left wing has done just that for the Predators. Forsberg was given credit for a power-play goal early in the second period when his wide shot was tipped in by Dan Hamhuis, and took advantage of a great play by Neal to score his second.

Neal walked around defenseman Alexander Edler off the rush before losing the puck as he drove into the crease. Forsberg pounced on the loose puck and quickly snapped it over the shoulder of Canucks goalie Eddie Lack. He never saw the first goal go in, calling it a "lucky bounce," but was watching Neal the whole way on the second.

"In front of the net is where you usually score the most goals and I just try to go there, especially with Neal," Forsberg said. "He is always shooting the puck a lot and that creates a lot of good scoring chances for me if I go there. He made a huge play there driving wide around the defenseman and I just tried to get it up. It was all Neal there."

It was the first assist of the season for Neal, who already has seven goals and likes what he sees in his new young linemate.

"He's learning the pro game and he's getting better every night," Neal said of Forsberg. "It's fun to help him and he had a great night tonight. He shoots the puck well and he's just going to keep getting better."

Pekka Rinne made 26 saves for the Predators, who are 2-1-0 midway through their season-long six-game road trip to accommodate the Country Music Association Awards being held in Nashville.

Rinne had to be great in the first period, but Nashville took over in the second.

"We had to survive the first period and after that I thought we took control of the game," Rinne said. "In the third we really went after it."

Edler scored on a power play and Lack made 30 saves in his first action in 10 days, but the Canucks' four-game win streak ended.

It may be a costly game for the Canucks, who lost defenseman Kevin Bieksa late in the first period with an apparent eye injury.

Bieksa appeared to take a puck near his right eye after coming together with two Predators players behind the Canucks net with 6:49 left to play in the first period. The puck popped straight up off his skate into his face and Bieksa dropped immediately to the ice. He headed to the dressing room holding a towel over his right eye.

"Bieksa went to get looked at," coach Willie Desjardins said without providing any further information.

The Canucks also lost forward Tom Sestito early in the second period after pulling up trying to accelerate out of his zone. He was spotted leaving the rink on crutches.

Coming off a 3-2 road win against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, the Canucks opened the scoring with Nashville captain Shea Weber in the penalty box midway through the first period.

Weber took exception to a big hit by Luca Sbisa on Predators forward Taylor Beck and dropped the gloves with Sbisa. Weber received a double minor for roughing, while Sbisa got one roughing minor. Edler's point shot through a Daniel Sedin screen hit the cross bar, bounced off the back of Rinne and trickled over the goal line.

After a back-and-forth first period that featured several odd-man rushes and great saves, including a sprawled left pad robbery off Chris Higgins by Rinne, things settled down in the second. The Predators outshot the Canucks (who were playing for the second straight night) 11-3 in the period, but it was a wide shot that tied the game.

With Vancouver shorthanded after its fifth too-man-men penalty of the season, Forsberg's shot was headed wide before Hamhuis deflected it past Lack.

"It's just the way the winds blows right now," Lack said.

Lack was ventilated in his last start, a 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 24, and entered the game 0-2 with a .862 save percentage. He had to be good early; Vancouver surrendered several odd-man rushes, including one in which Lack stopped Neal on a 3-on-2.

Not to be outdone, Rinne made a handful of spectacular saves. He got a glove on Daniel Sedin's shot in alone 25 seconds into the game, denied Zack Kassian in tight and somehow dragged his left leg while sliding in the splits to rob Higgins.

"[Rinne] was great tonight," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "You think about the first period and some of the chances, there was a chance in the first shift that was a tough one and another big one where he somehow held the leg in the crease. He was terrific."

Lack got a glove on a point-blank Forsberg power-play chance a few minutes later to prevent the hat trick, but Wilson beat him over the shoulder from below the bottom of the left faceoff circle to make it 3-1.

Lack, who has made all three starts this season in the second half of back-to-back games, is still seeking his first win.

"Honestly, I feel like I'm seeing the puck well and I have the game in me," Lack said. "Somehow the puck keeps finding a way in and I keep finding ways to lose the games, so for me I feel like I have to keep working and staying positive. It's tough right now."

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