NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 03:  Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 3, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Predators 3-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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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.

Talk about a Wild comeback for Minnesota

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The Minnesota Wild took back sole possession of the lead in the Central Division, thanks to a thrilling comeback win over the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.

Minnesota trailed 3-1 early in the second period. Jason Zucker closed the deficit in the middle period, before they took the lead for good thanks to a frenzy of three goals from Erik Haula, Ryan Suter and Zucker in 1:59 late in regulation for a 5-3 victory.

“When we came in in between the second and third, knowing we were only down a goal, and knowing our history, we didn’t think we were out of it,” said coach Bruce Boudreau, per the Pioneer Press.

And so the Wild remain one of the hottest teams in the league, leading Chicago by two points.

While it’s a comeback for them, the Ducks don’t quite see it the same way.

“It’s not what they did, to be honest. We self-imploded. Gave up too many opportunities, left our goalie out to dry,” said Cam Fowler.

Additional bad news for the Ducks, however, was that goalie John Gibson left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury, and didn’t return.

 

Bust a move: Capitals win includes unlikely OT hero and dad’s dancing in Dallas

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The usual suspects contributed for the Washington Capitals on Saturday. Down a pair of goals entering the third period, Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie helped ignite the comeback on the power play.

But then an unlikely hero emerged.

Jay Beagle scored his 10th goal of the season and the overtime winner to give Washington a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. That aforementioned goal total matches his previous career high from two seasons ago.

He initially accomplished the feat over the course of 62 games. This time, he hits 10 goals in 46 games played.

Officials needed to review the play, although replays quickly showed the puck over the line from the Beagle shot in the slot.

The comeback win led to a memorable post-game celebration.

Disclaimer: Don’t try this at home.

The Capitals maintain their lead in the Metropolitan Division ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

This game versus the Stars included some feisty moments, particularly in the first period when tempers boiled over. Tom Wilson and Brett Ritchie dropped the gloves for a lengthy fight. Three seconds later, Daniel Winnik fought Antoine Roussel.

Ducks goalie Gibson leaves game versus Wild with upper-body injury

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 01:  Goaltender John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks in action during the preseason NHL game against Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Anaheim goaltender John Gibson has left Saturday’s game against Minnesota with an upper-body injury.

A short-angle shot from Mikko Koivu appeared to hit Gibson in the upper chest with 5:39 to play in the first period. The goaltender immediately went down on one knee and was quickly attended to by a trainer. Gibson gingerly skated to the bench and went straight to the locker room.

Anaheim announced that Gibson is doubtful to return.

Gibson is 7-1-1 with two shutouts in his past nine starts. He was replaced by Jonathan Bernier.

Gibson stopped four of five shots he faced while making his fourth straight start.

Playoff hopes take a jolt: Coyotes crush Bishop and the Bolts

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning tends net against the New York Islanders during the second period at the Barclays Center on November 1, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Of the surprises in the NHL so far this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning has to be right up there on the list.

In 2015, they went to the Stanley Cup Final. The future had looked bright, but this signified the Bolts’ arrival into the top tier of teams in the league. Last season, they made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final and lost to the eventual champions from Pittsburgh. That was a playoff run that did not include Steven Stamkos until the deciding game of the East final.

This year? The Bolts are currently not in a playoff position. They’ve had issues defensively. They’ve had issues on offense. They’ve had issues with goaltending. They’ve dealt with injuries or illness to key players like Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, and other important members of their lineup.

Looking to gain ground in the playoff chase, the Bolts had what looked to be the perfect opponent to mend their troubles — at least for one game. On Saturday, Tampa Bay faced the Arizona Coyotes, losers of four in a row and sitting above only Colorado in the Western Conference standings.

The perfect remedy, right?

Wrong. So wrong.

The Bolts lost 5-3, mostly because of a disastrous opening two periods. Ben Bishop started and was pulled after 40 minutes, allowing five goals on 17 shots.

Down a goal after the first period, things went south for the Bolts in the middle period. The Coyotes — one of only two teams in the entire league still stuck under 100 goals-for entering this game — beat Bishop for three goals on just nine shots in the second.

The Bolts are dead last in the Atlantic Division, five points back of third-place Boston. They are four points back of Toronto for the final wild card spot, but there are seven teams ahead of Tampa Bay in that race.

There is still lots of time left in the season. But the Bolts had stressed the importance and urgency needed on this current six-game road trip, and they haven’t delivered.

A loss to the Coyotes would certainly seem like rock bottom.