Forsberg and Matt Duchene each recorded a goal and an assist on Thursday night to lead Nashville to a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames who have now lost three in a row. Forsberg, who inked an eight-year, US$68-million deal extension in July, now has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in the last five games.
“Filip’s a great player. He’s one of the drivers of our team on and off the ice,” said Predators coach John Hynes. “Guys didn’t want him to go anywhere. He’s a driver. When he plays the way he played tonight, he gives us a great chance to win.”
Nashville had lost seven of its previous eight (1-6-1) after opening the season with back-to-back wins against the San Jose Sharks in the 2022 NHL Global Series in Prague, Czechia.
“We played the way we wanted to play,” Forsberg said. “We played with poise with the puck, we were attacking the game and breaking out really well.”
Blake Coleman's first of the season was the lone goal for Calgary (5-4-0) which has cooled off after winning five of its first six games to open the season for the first time in franchise history. Jacob Markstrom made 28 saves in the loss.
“We weren't ready to play, obviously,” said Flames centre Elias Lindholm. “We talked about it and had a couple meetings and practice and stuff like that and still came out flat, no energy, and pretty much did that to ourselves tonight.”
Up 1-0 after a dominant opening 20 minutes, Nashville kept it going early in the second behind Forsberg's breakaway goal 59 seconds into the period.
After Calgary forward Jonathan Huberdeau coughed up the puck, the Flames got caught on a line change as Duchene and Forsberg both ended up behind their defence. Duchene left the puck for Forsberg who strolled in and fired a shot over Markstrom's shoulder.
“(Duchene) made a great little tap play to me. I just came off the bench and typical long change that I took advantage of,” said Forsberg.
The Predators went on the power play shortly after and only needed 29 seconds to make it 3-0 with Josi scoring on a wrist shot from the blue line with Forsberg screening in front.
“Fil had an amazing screen,” Josi said. “Obviously that shot is not going to go in if Fil isn’t screening the goalie. There wasn’t much going on.”
After being outshot 12-3 in the first, Calgary outshot Nashville 13-10 in the second, although still unable to solve Lankinen in the frame.
“It's just completely unacceptable.,” said Coleman.
Calgary broke Lankinen's shutout bid 1:43 into the third period when Coleman converted Mikael Backlund's pass.
“Not good enough. Not enough energy,” Backlund said. “We just didn't have the jump that I expected and it was all of us and we all know we all have to be better.”
Duchene scored an empty-netter with 14 seconds remaining to seal the game.
Despite the visitors carrying the play in the first period, Markstrom kept the Predators at bay until 19:31 when Jankowski scored on a rebound.
“I haven’t been back in this building, played a game here or played against Calgary since I left,” said Jankowski, who was called up from the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL earlier in the day. “It was really cool, really special moment to get the goal and get the win.”
TANEV'S STREAK SNAPPED
Flames defenceman Chris Tanev (upper body) did not play. It ends a string of 215 consecutive regular-season games played for Tanev, who hadn't missed a regular season game since a broken leg sidelined him for the final month of the 2018-19 regular season. Tanev missed four playoff games last season due to a dislocated shoulder and a torn labrum, the latter resulting in off-season surgery. His spot in the lineup was taken by Connor Mackey while Nikita Zadorov was promoted from the third pairing into Tanev's spot alongside Mackenzie Weegar.
FORSBERG CRACKS TOP THREE
Forsberg's two points gives him 481 career points, moving him into a tie with Martin Erat for third on the Predators' all-time list. A first-round pick (11th overall) by the Washington Capitals in 2012, it was Erat along with Michael Latta, who Nashville traded to the Capitals on April 3, 2013, to acquire Forsberg. Nashville's all-time points leader is David Legwand (566), but just 17 points back after his goal on Thursday is Josi. Forsberg's 224 goals leads the franchise.
Predators: Wrap up the Western Canada portion of their five-game road trip on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks.
Flames: Conclude their season-long eight-game homestand on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2022.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press