Viktor Arvidsson scored twice and Filip Forsberg’s three points helped lead the Nashville Predators to a 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. The triumph was Nashville’s 25th of the season and snapped a three-game home winless streak for the club.
“Everybody chipped in and did their thing,” Arvidsson said. “We won as a team, and that’s great. Pekka [Rinne] made huge saves and everybody played great.”
James Neal gave the Preds a 1-0 lead, when he finished off a beautiful pass from Ryan Johansen and beat Martin Jones through the five hole for a goal. Johansen corralled the puck behind the San Jose net and dished a backhand feed to Neal in the left face-off circle after a silky spin off a defender to create space. The goal was Neal’s 19th of the season and Johansen’s helper gave him 13 points in 13 games in a Preds uniform.
“San Jose is a good team, and at times they were outplaying us, but when we were on our game and when we executed, we finished off plays,” Johansen said. “You could see the smiles on guys and the confidence growing from that. So it was fun out there tonight.”
Johansen picked up another helper in the second period, when he found Calle Jarnkrok all alone in the slot. Jones got a piece of Jarnkrok’s wrist shot, but not enough, as the puck went up into the air and came back down behind the goal line. Jarnkrok’s ninth of the season gave Nashville a 2-0 lead before Joe Thornton got San Jose on the board with a power-play goal.
However, before the frame was out, Arvidsson converted on a play that could’ve gone wrong, but turned out so right. Arvidsson received a pass from Mike Ribeiro – who played in his 1,000th career game on Saturday – while skating backward into the offensive zone and managed to rifle a shot, while falling to his knees, over the shoulder of Jones for a 3-1 advantage. Forsberg recorded the secondary assist on the play for his 100th career point.
“It was huge,” Forsberg said of the win. “It’s going to be important all the way down - every goal, every game, especially these games at home in the conference. It was a big game… We played a really solid 60-minute game.”
The final frame brought points 101 and 102 for Forsberg as he potted a shorthanded goal at 6:51 for the Frosty goal and a 4-1 Preds lead. Arvidsson then claimed his second of the evening, as he and Forsberg converted on a 2-on-1 to put the game out of reach. Captain Shea Weber added an empty-net goal for his 14th tally of the season before the game was out, giving Nashville their 57th and 58th points.
“Confidence is a contagious thing, and you can get on a little bit of a roll. We have to make sure [we keeping improving],” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s not going to be an easy game against Washington [on Tuesday]. They’re one of the best teams in the League, so we have to be ready to go.”
Ryan Johansen has now played 13 games with the Predators. James Neal has been a constant on his right side, but Head Coach Peter Laviolette has tried different options on the left side of the top line. Perhaps Calle Jarnkrok is the answer.
Jarnkrok found himself getting a chance – and scoring a goal – on the line with Johansen and Neal on Thursday against Philadelphia, so Laviolette decided to stick with the trio on Saturday. All they did was combine for two goals, including Jarnkrok’s second-period tally.
“He just thinks the game so well,” Johansen said of Jarnkrok. “You look at any lines that are successful together, they’re all on the same page, and they’re all in the right spots. A perfect example is his goal. He’s reloading in a defensive position, and we create a turnover and he’s in a scoring spot. He finds a way to put it in. I noticed that from playing with him all over the ice in all three zones.
“You know he’s always in the right spot and it makes it a lot easier for me in adjusting to a new linemate, so big credit to him for the way he has played the last couple of games, because he’s really impressed me for sure.”
Jarnkrok has continued to improve in the Preds lineup since joining the team in the spring of 2013. Laviolette has praised Jarnkrok’s hockey sense before, but there’s another attribute the bench boss sees in the winger that helps him to be successful in all situations.
“He’s a smart player, but he’s a tireless worker too,” Laviolette said of Jarnkrok. “He’s relentless with his work ethic; constantly tries to dog the puck and hound the puck. He has a good skill level where he can play with [Johansen and Neal], but he brings speed and aggressiveness to that line.”
Gif of the Game:
Viktor Arvidsson beats Martin Jones top shelf by firing a wrister without any skates on the ice.
Peter Laviolette on Ryan Johansen:
“I didn’t know a lot about him coming in here; we watched him, but you know more once you get to meet a player and work with him and see him in practice. He’s been a good addition to our team. He’s good in the locker room, he’s been a good teammate, but you go back to why you make a trade and why you made the deal; the first goal, the play he makes in the sense that he has to pull it, bring it back and then to know where James is going to be and to be able to deliver that pass tape to tape. It’s not everybody who can do that, and he has a high skill level, a high hockey IQ and he’s done a nice job since being here.”
Mike Ribeiro became the 300th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game mark.
With his 100th career point, Filip Forsberg became the third member of the 2012 NHL Draft class to reach the mark, joining Alex Galchenyuk and Nail Yakupov.
Defenseman Petter Granberg was a healthy scratch for the Preds on Saturday.
Nashville will finish up their four-game home stretch on Tuesday night, when former Head Coach Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals come to town.
Mike Ribeiro plays his 1,000th career game and registers his 751st career point in the contest.
Infographic: Preds Harpoon the Sharks