Nashville Predators rookie sensation Filip Forsberg notched his 19th goal of the season on Thursday night in a 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets. The win, Nashville’s fourth in a row, makes them the first team in the league to reach 80 points this season. Not only was the goal the game winner, but Forsberg also broke the rookie goal-scoring record for goals in a season previously set by Alexander Radulov.
“It feels good just being able to contribute to the team,” said Forsberg. “Scoring a goal in this really tight game obviously makes it a little more special.”
In his two-point night, Forsberg also assisted on the first goal of the game scored by Shea Weber. With the goal and assist, he’s now tallied 50 points in 55 games this season. It’s not something he really expected at the beginning of the season.
“No, not at all,” said Forsberg on if this is what he thought this season would be like. “I just tried to get ready for camp and make the team. Now we’re here and I can’t complain about really anything. The team has been playing great all year and I’m just really happy I’ve been able to contribute to that.”
Scoring has just seemed to come easy for the Swedish forward. He has a quick release and is able to find, or create, a shooting lane wherever he is on the ice.
“It was kind of open, to be honest,” said Forsberg on his goal. “Josi kind of pulled the whole penalty kill unit over to one side and just gave it to me. I had all the time in the world basically to just pick my corner. I got a really good screen from Neal and their defenseman, so it was a pretty easy goal to score.”
Although his goal was scored early in the second period, it sealed the win over the Jets. It’s another big win over a divisional opponent considering the upgrades Winnipeg made on Wednesday in trading for Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford from the Buffalo Sabres.
“It’s great,” said Forsberg on the win. “All the division games are really tight. Tonight, 3-1, it could have went any way. Pekka came up huge for us with the three on five penalty kill and did a tremendous job again.”
According to Sport Club Stats, just nine more wins should seal a playoff berth for the Predators. Considering the team has 27 games remaining, the goal should be attainable, especially with their performance this season.
“We have a little less than 30 games left, so it’s just focusing on day by day,” said Forsberg. “I think that’s what has kept us successful so far. Really small steps. Practice by practice. Game by game.”
The match-up between the Predators and the Jets is one that could likely be a first round series in the playoffs. While it’s early to look ahead, Forsberg knows they would make for a difficult opponent in the seven-game series.
“They’re a good team just like every team in the NHL,” said Forsberg. “They’re a good skating team and have some big bodies out there. It’s obviously a tough game, but I’m really happy we could get the win. If we play them in the playoffs, that would be a question to answer then.”
Whether they meet in the playoffs will depend more on Winnipeg’s performance for the rest of the season, and if they can continue to hold on to a Wild Card spot.
Up next for the Predators are the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. The Devils will be coming in on the end of a back-to-back with their game Friday night being against the Chicago Blackhawks. If Nashville can come out swinging early, it could be a long night for New Jersey.
View Peter Laviolette’s post game press conference:
Photo credit: Lauren Gallas