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Filip Forsberg is starting another goal scoring tear for the Predators

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It’s starting to become Filip Forsberg‘s time to shine once again.

With his goal on Friday night in the Nashville Predators’ 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues, Forsberg is now on a three-game goal scoring streak and has lit the lamp in six of his past nine games. It now has him back on track after a miserable start to the season that saw him score just two goals in his first 27 games.

That goal drought from arguably their best forward was one of the many issues facing the Predators, a preseason season Stanley Cup contender, as they stumbled out of the gate to a disappointing start.

It was also a repeat of the way he started last season when he had just five goals through his first 28 games.

Goal scorers tend to go through extended slumps over the course of an 82-game season, and in each of the past two years Forsberg has had his worst over the first two months of the season. In both cases it was the result of him shooting at a rate that was far below his normal career average. He rebounded with a huge second half last year, and he seems to be starting on that path again this season.

Some numbers to compare:

  • Through the first 28 games of last season he averaged 2.89 shots per game and only scored on 6 percent of them. He finished the season by seeing a small increase in shot volume (3.1 per game) and converted on more than 16 percent of his shots on his way to a 33-goal season.
  • He is following a similar path this season. Through his first 27 games he was averaging just over 2.6 shots per game but had only on scored on around 4 percent of them, a ridiculously low average that was almost certain to increase as the season went on as he started to get some of the breaks he was not getting over the first two months. Over the past nine-games he has seen his shot volume increase (back up to 3.1 per game) while he is converting on more than 19 percent of those shots.

He still has a ways to go before he gets back to the 30-goal pace we saw from him last season, but this recent surge is a great starting point for him. It is also coming at a perfect time for the Predators as they try to get back into a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The biggest issue we have with players like Forsberg is we still don’t fully appreciate just how difficult it is to score goals in the NHL right now. Even your best players are going to hit a cold streak over the course of an 82-game season where the puck doesn’t go in the net.

Streaky is a word that nobody likes to have associated with them, but the reality is that every player in the league is streaky to a certain degree when it comes to their point production and goal production. We see a top-line player go through a 10-15 game stretch where they only score one or two goals (or sometimes even none) and we panic and try to figure out what is wrong with them. In most cases there really isn’t anything wrong. It is simply a slump, usually driven by a massive drop in shooting percentage, and is only temporary until they their shooting luck starts to change back in their favor. And with players like Forsberg it almost always does change back in their favor.

What separates players like Forsberg from everybody else is their ability to go on these runs like the one he is starting to get on now, as well as the one he had late last season when he scored 14 goals in 14 games. Not every player is capable of that sort of stretch, and when you have a player that can go on one it can help carry a team.

This could be the start of such a stretch for Forsberg.

Ducks’ Perry being evaluated at hospital for lower body injury

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The injury woes for the Anaheim Ducks continued on Monday night.

On the same night they got Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg back in the lineup, they lost forward Corey Perry to some sort of a lower body injury.

Perry exited the game after playing just 3:49 in the first period.

After the game Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said that Perry is being evaluated at a local hospital for the injury and that there was no other update at this time.

According to Ducks beat writer Eric Stephens of the OC Register Perry did not suffer a skate cut.

In 31 games this season Perry has scored six goals to go with 16 assists for the Ducks. The Ducks have been absolutely crushed by injuries this season, a development that has no doubt played a major role in their slow start.

The Ducks were 3-2 winners on Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Buzzer: Bernier shines for Avs, Rangers waste Pavelec’s great night

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Player Of The Night: Jonathan Bernier, Colorado Avalanche

After losing six out of their past seven games the Colorado Avalanche finally got back into the win column on Saturday night by crushing the Florida Panthers. They followed up that performance by marching into Pittsburgh and stealing two points from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 2-1 win that was highlighted by a stellar showing from starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier.

Bernier was the Avalanche’s best player on Monday night, turning aside 39 of the 40 shots he faced.

It was not until the final 11 seconds, when the Avalanche were already holding a two-goal lead, that he finally surrendered a goal.

It was probably Bernier’s best performance of the season and just the fifth time in 12 starts that he managed a save percentage higher than .900 in a game.

Wasted Effort Of The Night: The New York Rangers

Maybe “wasted” is too strong of a word considering the Rangers did get a point out of the night in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars, but let’s be honest be here. They did not even deserve that.

The Rangers were thoroughly dominated by the Stars and only managed to get the game to overtime thanks to a stellar performance from goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

Pavelec stopped 44 of the 45 shots he faced and almost single handedly got the Rangers to overtime.

After the game Rangers coach Alain Vigneault had this to say about the game: “There are two positives, Pavs played unreal and because of his performance we were able to get a point. Other than that….we weren’t good.”

That was it.

Ducks Get Some Help Back In The Lineup

The Anaheim Ducks got some much needed help back in their lineup on Monday night when Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg both returned to the lineup.

Silfverberg made an immediate impact after missing the past five games. He scored his sixth goal of the season in the Ducks’ 3-2 win.

Getzlaf did not factor into the scoring, but having him back in the lineup was still a huge lift for the Ducks. He played 20 minutes in the win.

Highlight Of The Night

The Winnipeg Jets have an outstanding offense. It was on display here with some nifty tic-tac-toe passing to take the lead against the Vancouver Canucks.

Factoid Of The Night

Brock Boeser scored another goal for the Canucks in their loss to the Winnipeg Jets. He is having a tremendous rookie season.

Scores

New York Islanders 3, Washington Capitals 1

Dallas Stars 2, New York Rangers 1

Colorado Avalanche 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 1

Florida Panthers 2, Detroit Red Wings 1

Winnipeg Jets 5, Vancouver Canucks 1

Anaheim Ducks 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Panthers and Red Wings had a fight night (Videos)

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The Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings seemed to be in a fighting mood on Monday night, dropping the gloves three times in the first two periods of their game in the Motor City.

Things started early in the first period when Red Wings tough-guy Luke Witkowski, playing in his first game back since serving a 10-game suspension, dropped the gloves with Michael Haley of the Panthers.

Have a look…

The two would square off once again in the second period.

Not long after the Witkowski-Haley rematch, Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and Red Wings forward Luke Glendenning took part in a rather vicious fight that left Glendenning bloodied on his way to the penalty box.

Given Ekblad’s history of concussions the Panthers can’t exactly be thrilled to see him taking part in a fight like that.

Ekblad is not much of a fighter, with Monday’s fight being just the third of his NHL career. It is, oddly enough, his second fight of the season with the first one also coming against the Red Wings.

Back in October he fought Justin Abdelkader.

Big centers back: Getzlaf in for Ducks, Panthers regain Barkov

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The Anaheim Ducks would probably qualify as unlucky so far in 2017-18 even beyond an extremely unfortunate bounce of a puck fracturing Ryan Getzlaf‘s cheekbone.

That loss was especially severe with Ryan Kesler already recovering, as Getzlaf missed 19 games, last appearing in a contest on that painful night of Oct. 29. The Ducks get quite the treat, then, as both Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg are slated to return as they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

Check out how much better everything fits together with the returns of Getzlaf and Silfverberg, not to mention the recent addition of Adam Henrique (line combos via the Ducks website):

Rakell-Getzlaf-Perry
Cogliano-Henrique-Silfverberg
Blandisi-Vermette-Kase
Wagner-Grant-Shaw

The Ducks are still without Kesler, and Patrick Eaves is fighting a serious physical battle that puts hockey on the backburner, so there’s still some mystery to how the Ducks might look if they can get anywhere near full-strength this season.

As is, they look a whole lot better going into Monday’s game, something the Florida Panthers could relate to.

While Anaheim’s dealt with bad luck, you could chalk up Florida’s troubles to a mix of unforced errors (jettisoning depth, particularly to Vegas) and tough breaks of their own (Roberto Luongo‘s injury issues). Either way, management will look infinitely smarter when Aleksander Barkov is in the lineup than when he’s not, so the Panthers must be happy to welcome him back tonight.

Interestingly, Left Wing Lock lists Barkov along with Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, rather than Denis Malgin taking Bjugstad’s spot (Malgin received looks, at least, once Evgenii Dadonov suffered an injury).

That would be quite the top-heavy approach for Florida, even if Malgin can mesh well with Vincent Trocheck.

While the Panthers have floundered at times, the Ducks seemed like they were finally starting to crater under the pressure of all those injury losses, as Anaheim only boasts two wins (2-4-4) in its last 10 games.

It’s true that the return of Barkov and Getzlaf would be important in just about any context for their teams, but each team likely feels especially relieved on Monday, as they can use all the help they can get.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.