“We talked about [playing consistently] a lot, and the last couple games, we have played a lot of good games,” defenseman Roman Josi said. “Even the games we lost, we played pretty well, and that’s what we need. In this League, you just have to collect points somehow. You want to win every game, but even if you find a way to get one point in some games, it’s a good thing.”
Much like last night in Montreal, the Preds capitalized early, this time on the power play, when Mike Ribeiro fed Filip Forsberg, who broke through the Toronto defense and put a shot past James Reimer for a 1-0 lead at 5:46. The goal was Forsberg’s 21st of the season, tying him with James Neal for the team lead.
As the second period began, it was Forsberg again, this time with an assist from Craig Smith after he took advantage of a Reimer turnover behind his own net. Smith fed Forsberg in front for his second tally of the evening.
Then, less than two minutes later, the Swede completed the natural hat trick off a loose puck at the side of the cage for his 23rd goal of the season and first-career, regular-season hat trick.
“It was great,” Forsberg said of his hat trick. “It put our team in a good spot at 3-0 and it was all that we needed for tonight.”
“His first goal was really nice,” Josi said of Forsberg. “He was under a lot of pressure, and that’s what he does. He’s got that killer instinct in front of the net and a great release. He’s been great the last few games.”
Toronto added two late, but Carter Hutton and the Preds held the fort, securing the victory and giving Nashville four out of a possible four points on the trip thus far, which will conclude Thursday in Chicago.
“Two wins is always good,” Josi said. “We have one more game, and it’s going to be a tough one against Chicago, one of the best teams in the League. Hopefully, we can get another win.”
Hats for Fil:
Filip Forsberg didn’t forget how to score goals. It took the 21-year-old winger 22 games to register three tallies to start the season. Slowly, but surely, they started to come with regularity. He even scored six in a six-game stretch from Feb. 6-18.
On Tuesday night in Toronto, Forsberg hit the exclamation point, first tying and then taking over the team lead in goals and recording a natural hat trick, the first in his career of the regular season variety.
“Well, I wish he scored three goals every night,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette quipped. “He was really good tonight. Their line has been really playing lights out, maybe the last half dozen games. They’ve been really noticeable. Mike Ribeiro’s been really good, Craig Smith’s been really good. Filip has had great jump. He’s had lots of opportunities to put the puck at the net tonight. He’s just using his size, his speed and his skill. He’s playing really well right now.”
Never one to take too much of the credit, Forsberg also praised his linemates Craig Smith and Mike Ribeiro for contributing to his success over the past handful of games.
“Me and [Ribeiro and Smith] have really connected lately and are just playing really good hockey,” Forsberg said. “We’re spending a lot of time in the offensive zone and that helps a lot, and I think it's just hanging around the net and getting two greasy ones tonight.”
Laviolette has also been impressed with the trio, especially the play of Forsberg who has turned it on as the final stretch drive continues.
“They’re all moving pretty good right now,” Laviolette said. “Once you get speed of an attack, they’re all skilled players, once you get speed in the offensive zone, good things can happen out there. They are talented players. Filip can shoot the puck.”
Gif of the Game:
Filip Forsberg shows off his signature grin after notching his first-career natural hat trick.
Peter Laviolette on the play of his defensemen with Shea Weber missing Tuesday’s contest with a lower-body injury:
“He’s a guy that pulls down 27 minutes, and always against the other team’s best players, so to not have him in there is not where we want to be. I thought our guys stepped up really well tonight. I thought [Petter] Granberg played another really good game tonight, [Barret] Jackman got back in there after his injury and played a good game. Tony Bitetto continues to play well, the regulars did a nice job tonight.”
Forsberg’s hat trick was the first for the club since Captain Shea Weber potted three on Dec. 5, 2015, at Detroit.
Weber missed Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. Ryan Ellis took Weber’s spot alongside Roman Josi on the top defensive pairing.
Defenseman Barret Jackman returned to the Nashville lineup after missing Monday’s game in Montreal. Jackman left Saturday’s game in Nashville after crashing into the endboards.
The Preds finish their current three-game road trip on Thursday night in Chicago.
Filip Forsberg is given only the First Star of the night, despite possibly deserving all three.
Infographic: Filip Forsberg 3, Leafs 2