The Nashville Predators struggled against the New York Islanders in the first period of Thursday’s contest between the division leaders, but Filip Forsberg gave Nashville a reason to go into the intermission with a glimmer of hope.
Down 3-0 late in the first frame, Forsberg was persistent in his onslaught on goaltender Jaroslav Halak and eventually it paid off:
That was the 20-year-old rookie’s 20th goal and 51st point of the 2014-15 campaign. He’s got a comfortable lead in the rookie scoring race and is a favorite to win the Calder Trophy as a result.
Forsberg’s rise is one of the big reasons Nashville has a 39-12-6 this season as he’s helped boost the Predators’ offense after they were limited to 2.61 goals per game in 2013-14.
A couple of Olympic gold-medal winners will be between the pipes tonight in Montreal, where the Canadiens’ Carey Price will be staring down the Bell Centre ice at the Panthers’ Roberto Luongo.
Both Canadian netminders are enjoying excellent seasons. Price is a serious Hart Trophy candidate, while Luongo has helped keep Florida in the playoff race with a .920 save percentage in 46 appearances.
With a win, the Panthers would move to within one point of the Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the East.
So let’s hear those “Go Habs Go” chants, Boston sports fans!
Jaroslav Halak will look to rebound from a shaky performance versus the Rangers when the Islanders host the Predators, who are likely to go with Pekka Rinne.
Cam Talbot for the Rangers versus Ryan Miller for the Canucks.
Curtis McElhinney for the Blue Jackets versus Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.
Ondrej Pavelec will see his first action in a week when the Jets visit Washington to take on Braden Holtby and the Capitals.
Michal Neuvirth for the Sabres versus Ray Emery for the Flyers.
Antti Niemi for the Sharks versus Kari Lehtonen (likely) for the Stars.
With Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli already dealt, hockey insider Darren Dreger joins the NBCSN crew to discuss the likelihood of the Toronto Maple Leafs dealing Dion Phaneuf or Phil Kessel prior to the trade deadline.
Dreger also discusses what defensemen are available and what the New Jersey Devils plan to do with 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr.
How, exactly, did the San Jose Sharks not score here on Pekka Rinne?
The Nashville Predators goalie made a spectacular sequence of saves, including one off Joe Pavelski despite the sound of the whistle, early in the second period of Tuesday’s game. At that point, the Predators had a healthy three-goal lead.
The Predators went to defeat the Sharks 5-1. Rinne made 42 saves. That’s now six wins in a row for the Predators, who increased their lead in the Central Division to six points, and in the NHL’s overall standings.
With that kind of goaltending, and that kind of talent on the blue line, they could be a force to be reckoned with once the playoffs come around.
On the other hand, the Sharks, in a fight to even make the playoffs, remain in the final Wild Card spot for right now, but the L.A. Kings are only two points back.
The losing continues for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Change has already started with player personnel and it appears there will be more on the way.
Toronto’s struggles, which now include a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, left newcomer Olli Jokinen, acquired in a deal with the Nashville Predators, to deliver a rather astute observation about the wayward Leafs.
“The one thing I notice here being here two days is a lot of negative energy around here,” said the 36-year-old Jokinen, as per Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press.
“You can feel the pressure is just building and building…it’s getting to guys,” said goalie Jonathan Bernier, as per Jonas Siegel of TSN 1050.
The Leafs couldn’t get much going through two periods, and the Panthers took advantage, opening up a two-goal lead in the second period. Toronto outshot its opponent 16-1 in the third period, with Phil Kessel — read about the trade talk surrounding him here — scoring his 22nd goal of the season to get his team within one.
The Leafs couldn’t complete the comeback, and lost for the sixth time in seven games this month.
Meanwhile, the Panthers move to within two points of the struggling Boston Bruins for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.