A meeting with a former head coach and Filip Forsberg’s first professional game at the Verizon Center set the scene in the nation’s capital for the Nashville Predators to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Selected 11th overall by the Caps in 2012, Forsberg put up three points against the team that traded him to Nashville, including a cross-ice feed to Mike Ribeiro for the game winner in the second period. The 4-3 triumph provided the Preds a season sweep of former bench boss Barry Trotz in his first season away from Music City and made Nashville the Western Conference’s first club to clinch a postseason berth.
“The guys played hard all year and we put ourselves in a position to clinch at this point in the season,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “I always think it’s a little more meaningful when you earn the win, you earn the two points and the right to get in.”
Check back next weekend for Game No. 2 in our countdown!
By all accounts, the goal of the game probably belongs to Mattias Ekholm’s interception out of the penalty box, move past defenseman Mike Green and then rising backhand tally, but the surrounding storylines, and frankly, the velocity of Forsberg’s writer, give him the honor. Besides, Ekholm’s other improbable goal against Montreal came only four days before his marker in Washington - one top goal in a week is enough for a D-man.
Skating into the zone 1-on-3, Forsberg, the Preds leading scorer in 2014-15, fires a laser beam past Alex Ovechkin and eventually goaltender Braden Holtby to cap off Nashville’s dominant opening period.
“It’s always fun to help the team win,” Forsberg said. “Coming here, it’s a little extra special playing here for the first time. It was a good team effort, and I’m really happy we could come out with two points.”
Ekholm Strikes Again:
OK, fine. Ekholm’s goal is worth showing again here.
Gif of the Game:
With a little more than five minutes remaining in regulation and the Preds trying to preserve a one-goal lead, Pekka Rinne slides to his right and reaches back to snag a Green one-timer out of the air.
Even after his dominant offensive performance, Forsberg was still quick to compliment the effort from his teammate and his first period goal.
“That’s just what he does right now,” Forsberg said of Ekholm’s scoring prowess. “If he scores, it’s probably going to be highlight reel. It’s a lot of fun to watch him play.”