It was a night full of emotions for players on each team when the Nashville Predators faced the Columbus Blue Jackets. For the first time since their trade on January 6th, Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones faced their former teams. All emotions aside however, the Predators completely dominated Columbus into submission with a final score of 5-1.
Since February 12th, Nashville is an NHL-best 14-2-5 and they continued rolling on Saturday evening. 10 Predators put points on the board during the game. Compared to Thursday night, the team came out strong in the first period, firing a franchise-record 27 shots on goal in the first.
“Especially in the last game we played against them we shot a lot of pucks, but I don’t think we played that well against them, and we didn’t have a good result in Columbus,” said Filip Forsberg, who registered an assist in the game. “I think we had that game in our mind and got that back.”
Part of Forsberg registering his assist included what is his well-known “butt-check.” It’s become a signature move of his to clear the opposition out of the way, and the move is also a sign of the tremendous strides Forsberg has taken to bulk up and continue to get stronger. Following his check, Shea Weber scored the fourth goal for Nashville on the power play.
“I just tried to basically surprise him a little bit,” said Forsberg on his check on Cam Atkinson. “I guess the guy wasn’t really expecting it because I was battling for the puck and I’m just trying to give myself some more room to make some plays. Obviously that was a big goal in the game as well.”
With Forsberg hitting a milestone on Thursday in becoming Nashville’s first 30-goal scorer since Patric Hornqvist in the 2009-10 season, Saturday night was another one of milestones. Shea Weber moved up to second place on all-time goals scored by a Predator at 164. Roman Josi tied the single-season record for points by a defenseman at 56. Lastly, James Neal joined the 30-goal club, which gave Nashville their first pair of 30-goal scorers since the 2005-06 season.
“Every line has really stepped up lately,” said Forsberg. “It’s pretty amazing what [Josi] has done this year, and him and [Weber] as a pairing. Then [Neal] with 30 goals is unbelievable. He’s been so hot right now. Just give him the puck.”
As the team continues to roll along , it’s tough not to watch the standings. Where they finish really is in their hands, and that’s what Forsberg reiterated.
“I think that’s been kind of the case since the All Star break, just one game at a time,” said Forsberg. “Just try to win that. That’s led to the spot we’re in right now. We know where we’re at, but we can’t really control anything else than what we can do out there, and that’s all we’re focussing on.”
Winning at home has certainly helped the Predators maintain their hot streak. Nashville is 7-0-3 in their last 10 games at home. Out of the seven games remaining in the regular season, four will be at Bridgestone Arena, and the team feeds off the energy of the crowd each night.
“It’s just unbelievable every night here,” said Forsberg. “I have a few buddies here and they’re just loving it. They’re so surprised with how big of an impact the fans can be. Just look at the Vancouver game. We scored a goal and they just really fired up and got us the second one. It was basically just like that all night, so it’s pretty amazing to play in front of them.”
Next up for Nashville is the Colorado Avalanche, whose two-game losing streak has them seeing their playoff hopes diminish. While the Avalanche are struggling, the Predators can clinch a playoff berth with a win Monday.
Post game with Roman Josi & Peter Laviolette:
Photo credit: Christina McCullough