Filip Forsberg recorded his second natural hat trick in three games, and Pekka Rinne stopped all 28 shots he faced as the Nashville Predators beat the St. Louis Blues by a 5-0 final on Saturday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena.
The win is Nashville’s fourth in a row, giving them points in nine-straight games (6-0-3 record). The club has allowed two goals or fewer in their last six games.
“We’ve really found a way to play defensively, and I think that’s the biggest key,” Forsberg said. “That’s the biggest thing, to get offense too, I think we’re playing really solid defensively and our goalie’s coming up with big saves when we need him to.”
Craig Smith gave Nashville a 1-0 lead at the 5:38 mark when he banged in a loose puck at the front of the net for his 14th of the season.
Then, Forsberg took over. The Swede scored his 24th, 25th and 26th goals of the season in the middle frame for his second natural hat trick in the last three outings. The first marker came 54 seconds into the stanza, followed by another at 5:39. Forsberg finished off the three-goal set on the power play, beating Jake Allen for the third time in less than 15 minutes.
Colin Wilson made it 5-0 as the third period got underway, a score that would hold until the very end. Rinne made save after save for his fourth shutout of the season and the 40th of his career. It was also the 100th shutout in franchise history.
“It’s a key time of the year; big games, solid hockey, all close games,” Rinne said. “Tonight we scored some goals, but it’s against really good teams and that’s a great sign going down to the last 20 games of the season.”
“There are still a lot of games left before we make the playoffs, but I think we’re playing good right now,” Forsberg said. “We want to keep playing like this.”
Hats for Fil. Again.
Filip Forsberg scored three goals on Tuesday in Toronto as the Preds topped the Maple Leafs 3-2. On Saturday, he did it again.
Forsberg’s hat trick helped lead the Preds to a 5-0 win over the St. Louis Blues, tying his career high for goals in a single season with 26 that was set one season ago. The Swede is tied for the League lead in goals with 12 during the month of February.
Forsberg is the first player from any club to register multiple natural hat tricks in three or fewer games since 1986-87. It also marks the first time a Preds player has recorded two hat tricks in the same season.
“A lot of our guys [have great confidence] right now,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “There’s quite a few guys playing with a lot of confidence; Pekka’s got a lot of confidence, Craig Smith and Mike Ribeiro. But Fillip really seems to be really dialed in right now, he’s moving quickly, he’s moving the puck quickly, getting the shot off quick, and all that is translating to offense.”
Along with Smith and Ribeiro, Forsberg’s line has been on a tear, accounting for four of Nashville’s five goals against on Saturday.
“The start of this year, I wasn’t playing my best hockey,” Forsberg said. “There was a slow start, but I think our linemates… have really been stepping up lately and it feels great to help the team win games.”
“Filip had a real good first year,” Laviolette said. “It’s certainly up there with some of the best hockey, that he’s played. He’s consistent right now. When he plays with pace and he does things fast with the puck, it becomes really difficult to defend. He plays the off-wing so he moves it in and out of the ice surface and just creates things. He gets his shot off and makes a play to somebody else. He’s got a lot of confidence, he’s in a stretch right now where he is playing really good hockey.”
Gif of the Game:
Filip Forsberg comes straight into your living room while celebrating his second of three goals on Saturday.
Mattias Ekholm on playing well at this time of year:
“I thought we played a great series against Chicago [last season]. We ended up losing it, but I would rather come in like this. Everyone’s probably feeling pretty good about themselves and everyone is playing great. 5-0 against St. Louis on home ice on a Saturday, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Preds Captain Shea Weber missed his third consecutive game on Saturday and remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Forsberg now has 13 career points against the Blues, his highest total against any team.
Nashville continues their three-game home stand on Tuesday night when the Dallas Stars come to town, followed by New Jersey on Thursday.
The month of “Fil-bruary” comes to a close with Forsberg netting his second hat trick of the month and 12th score in 27 days.
Infographic: Happy Fil-bruary to You