Filip Forsberg had the lone goal, and the Nashville Predators shutout the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 on Thursday in the Preds’ first home preseason game.
The contest was something of a collection of first impressions for many members of the home team. Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette stood behind the bench in Bridgestone Arena for the first time, while veterans Mike Ribeiro, James Neal, Olli Jokinen and Anton Volchenkov all made their debuts in Predators Gold.
Playing alongside two of the new forwards acquired this summer, 20-year-old winger Filip Forsberg lit the lamp early in the first after receiving the puck from Ribeiro.
“I was coming in pretty fast,” Forsberg said. “I was going right from the bench and got the puck from Ribeiro, it was a really good play. Usually when you come in high speed at goalies, they tend to go pretty hard at you. So you have to keep yourself calm and go around them. I was lucky to put it in this time.”
Acquired in a trade for winger Martin Erat in April 2013, Forsberg has skated with two of Nashville’s more offensively gifted players regularly in training camp and now made good in his first game action with Neal and Ribeiro.
“For sure, I was playing with probably the team’s two most skilled players out there, so that really helps me a lot,” said Forsberg. “I’m just trying to make it easy for them, be in the right spot and they’ll find me. I was really enjoying playing with these two guys tonight.”
“I didn’t think [Forsberg] had much room once he got out there on the right side but he was able to reach around and score a goal,” Ribeiro said. “It was our first game together and the main thing is to try and create those turnovers like we did. Most of the time now that’s how you create offense is off turnovers. For a first game as unit, I think we did well.”
On the opposite side of the puck, the Predators familiar defensive trio was also in action with Pekka Rinne in goal for the first 32 minutes of the contest and Roman Josi and Shea Weber paired on the blue line.
Rinne and Marek Mazanec combined for the 22-save shutout with the netminders notching 12 and 10 saves respectively.
“It was great to wear that jersey, go for warmup and then the game. It’s nice to come and not get booed by fans and really have them on your side instead,” Ribeiro said. And to get the first win was big. I think it’s important for a team to build on that, take the positives and move forward with it.”