Colorado never backed away, but strong first and third periods were enough for the Preds to prevail, as the club put forth the kind of effort Head Coach Peter Laviolette likes to see with the postseason looming.
“I liked the start, I liked the first period,” Laviolette said. “We just were playing a desperate team tonight, and we took a little bit of a step back in the second period. I thought they hit the gas pedal in the second period, and that was enough to put them in our in way too much. To get the response in the third was really important, especially after having some tough periods. We’ll look back and try to get better at the second and avoid those lulls.”
It was Colin Wilson who tallied first on the evening, sniping a shot past Semyon Varlamov and just under the crossbar for his sixth goal of the season and a 1-0 Nashville lead. Then a 5-on-3 power play for the Preds yielded an opportunity in tight for Forsberg, and the Swede scored a magnificent goal between his legs for a 2-0 lead.
Mikkel Boedker got the Avalanche on the board before the first period was out, and then Jarome Iginla evened the contest with less than three minutes to play in the middle fame.
The Preds didn’t waste any time snagging the lead back when Mike Fisher registered his 13th of the season off a cross-crease feed from Roman Josi. Colorado made it 3-3 just over a minute later on a Shawn Matthias goal, but then Craig Smith got in on the act at 4:17, roofing a Forsberg feed for his 21st and the eventual game winner.
Pekka Rinne made 25 saves on the night as he recorded his 33rd win of the season to snap Nashville’s 0-3-1 skid and put the group back in the win column with two games to go in the campaign.
“You just do your best to play within our structure and stick to our game plan,” Johansen said. “Every night, we lace them up and we’re going against 20 great hockey players over there. We just manage the game as best we can and limit their chances and opportunities as much as possible and hopefully come away with wins.”
It’s no secret Filip Forsberg’s skillset is of the elite variety, but it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder every once in a while. Forsberg’s power-play goal, which came at 10:19 of the first period, is one that will likely be played over and over on NHL highlight films in the coming days, weeks and months.
Forsberg, who was parked in front of the Colorado net on a 5-on-3 Nashville advantage, took a pass off the skate of Ryan Johansen from behind the net, corralled the puck on his stick, and then, in a precarious position in tight, managed to deposit a shot from between his legs into the far side of the net on a play that is often only tested in practice.
“It’s something that you can’t really just throw it out anytime,” Forsberg said of his move. “I’m just trying to get the puck as fast as I could to the net, and sometimes that’s the fanciest way, too.”
Johansen, who picked up the primary assist on the play, had a perfect view of the slick play.
“I had a great view,” Johansen smiled. “I’m sure when I go home that’s all I’ll see on the highlight reels. He’s capable of making those kinds of plays each and every night, and obviously, it turned out to be a huge goal for us too. It was fun to be right there for that one.”
Even though it was simply another night at the office for the humble, 21-year-old Swede, the goal continues to prove to the rest of the Preds just how special of a player No. 9 has become.
“He made it look so easy,” Johansen said. “It was kind of a bang-bang play. Weber shot it, and it ricocheted off of my skate to him. He just put it right through his legs and made it look like nothing. I’m sure I was just as surprised to see him pull it off like that as everyone else.”
“That was a beautiful goal,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Not a lot of players can do that. It’s one of those ones you will probably see rolling over the airways quite a few times. It was a great move, I mean, just to get the pass and the bump to him was just a real nice play to get it out to him. He was jammed up and that was the only way he could have put it in. So, for him to be able to have that skill level to do it is impressive.”
Gif of the Game:
Another look at Filip Forsberg scoring the goal of the season and maybe the century.
Colin Wilson on recording two points against the Avalanche after being a healthy scratch last week:
“It’s always a lesson to be learned when you sit out. You never want that to happen and you should learn it before you get scratched. I think I’ve been doing well, and I thought I had a couple of good games before that scratch, so with the playoff stretch coming I want to step up my game.”
Filip Forsberg’s power-play goal was his 32nd tally of the season, placing him one goal behind Jason Arnott for the Predators franchise record for goals by a player in a single season.
Ryan Ellis returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury. Ellis recorded two shots on goal in 21:34 of ice time.
Cody Bass, who was recalled from Milwaukee on Monday, skated in his 15th game of the season for the Preds, getting into a scrap with Colorado’s Cody McLeod and winning two faceoffs in 7:29 of ice time.
The Predators host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday evening at Bridgestone Arena for Fan Appreciation Night. Nashville then concludes the 2015-16 regular season in Dallas on Saturday night.
Shea Weber helps the Predators become just the fifth team in the NHL with five 50-point scorers.
Infographic: Filip Melts The Avalanche