The breakout games for James Neal and Filip Forsberg finally came on Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.
Forsberg tallied his first goal of the season in the Nashville Predators 14th game, while James Neal notched his first multi-goal effort of the campaign. Five games ago, the Preds two most-dynamic scorers had a single goal combined and Nashville sat outside the playoff picture at 3-5-1.
Fast forward to today, Neal has scored in four consecutive games, including last night's pair of scores, his longest goal streak since the 2013-14 season. He also has eight points (5g-3a) in the previous seven contests, a period in which the Preds have gone 4-1-2.
For Neal, the process during a sluggish start to the season was to stay committed to the style of play he'd exhibited during the first 10 games. A heavy volume shooter, the pucks were on target for Neal, they just weren't finding twine - yet.
Video: ANA@NSH: Neal bags PPG for second goal of the game
"Even when we weren't scoring, we knew we had players that were capable of scoring goals," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "[James] Neal has had lots of opportunities since the start of the year, and it's nice to see that they finally [are going] in. Goal-scorers continue to shoot the puck as much as possible because they're good at what they do."
A lengthy drought to begin 2016-17 was even more frustrating for Forsberg, who signed a six-year $36 million contract this offseason. The Preds leading goal-scorer last season with 33 tallies (which tied the franchise's single-season record), wasn't getting enough offensive chances this year. Fortunately for Forsberg, his linemates continued to feed him the puck - knowing his individual success was crucial to Nashville's long-term prosperity.
Video: ANA@NSH: Forsberg scores his first goal of the season
On Saturday, a feed whipped across the offensive zone by Ryan Johansen that Forsberg took a full-swinging one-timer on was at long last the shot that reached netting. A streaky scorer throughout his young career, one goal for the third-year player could mean big things. In 2015-16, Forsberg had just 13 goals at the All-Star Break (including a 17-game period without a score). All he did over the remaining 32 games was score 20 goals, including two natural hat tricks in a week.
The Predators would be more than OK with a similar blazing stretch from their budding star.
"He was determined, and he was bringing the puck to the net," Laviolette said after Saturday's 5-0 win. "It was just a matter of time. Again, goal-scorers that bring it to the net usually wind up scoring goals."