Forsberg Leads Preds to Game 1 Win Over Avalanche

Filip Forsberg

Filip Forsberg scored once. And then he brought the house down.

The Swedish star tallied twice and the Nashville Predators came back to defeat the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 by a 5-2 final to take a 1-0 lead in their opening round series.

It took the Predators until the third period to collect their first lead of the game, but once they did, there was no looking back. And in a game that wasn’t always in favor of the home team, Nashville delivered when it mattered most.

“It’s always a little nervous going into the first game,” Forsberg said. “You wouldn’t be in your right mind if you didn’t feel nervous going into the first big playoff game. We got going in the third.”

“I felt that guys played with a lot of detail and a lot of purpose,” Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “The beginning of the game didn’t have a lot going on, but we still were able to play with purpose and detail and execute until we got it going. It showed a lot of guts coming from behind first to 1-1, and then in a 2-1 game coming from behind to tie the game up. I thought that was awesome.”

Colorado had a 1-0 advantage after the opening period courtesy of a goal from Nikita Zadorov. Austin Watson scored the first Nashville goal of the playoffs just over three minutes into the second, but Blake Comeau gave the Avalanche the lead once more less than two minutes later.

On a power-play opportunity midway through the frame, Ryan Johansen fed Craig Smith, and the winger snapped a shot past Jonathan Bernier to even the score once more.

Before the second stanza was out, Rinne stoned Mikko Rantanen on a partial breakaway with a full extension of the right pad, setting the tone for what turned out to be a three-goal third, including two from Forsberg, the second of which is worth watching over and over again.

Colton Sissons finished it off with an empty-netter and the Predators took care of business behind their home-ice advantage in Game 1.

A lead in the series is undoubtedly an advantage, but the Avalanche, who clinched their spot on the final day of the regular season, aren’t about to go away. The Predators know that, and they fully intend on raising their level of play as well on Saturday.

“It’s going to be really tough,” Forsberg said. “Colorado has been playing good all year, and they played a good game tonight too. Obviously, Game 1 is ours, but we’ll keep working hard.”

“I don’t think any team is going to walk through the playoffs and say, ‘You know what? We played every minute just the way we wanted to,'” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Tonight, was Game 1. We know we can do better at some things and we’ll work on that. But again, I thought the guys hung in there for having to fight back a couple of times and push forward. I thought they did that. We’ll get ready for Game 2 now… Colorado is not going anywhere – they’re a good hockey club we’re going to have to be ready to play.”

Postseason Scoresberg:

Filip Forsberg is one of those elite players in the NHL who has the ability to bring an entire arena to its feet with moves other hockey players can only dream of pulling off.

And on Thursday night, he did just that. Talk about setting the tone for the series.

Forsberg gave the Preds their first lead of the evening early in the third, but the winger wasn’t done. Taking it by himself, Forsberg entered the Colorado end, dipsy-doodled his way around former Preds blueliner Samuel Girard and wired a shot past Jonathan Bernier for a tally that will be shown around the world for days, weeks, months – maybe even years – to come.

“What I really liked about it is it was a power move,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Forsberg’s second goal. “It was not just a standing still move. He really picked up speed and did his best to drive. I always feel like he’s at his best when he’s a power forward first and then he brings his skill element into it, and that’s exactly what he did on that goal.”

“I see that kind of stuff in practice all the time,” goaltender Pekka Rinne laughed. “[It was a] beautiful goal. You think about the first game in the playoffs and he’s able to pull those moves off and finish the play. It was a great individual effort and obviously, to me, that was the goal that sealed the deal tonight.

With a pair of markers on the night, Forsberg is now tied for the Predators franchise lead with 28 postseason points to his name, a mark that could be broken on Saturday afternoon. And if No. 9 can provide more moves like that, the Preds will be in excellent shape.

“He just does unbelievable things all the time it seems for us in here,” Sissons said of Forsberg. “But to do it on this day, in an intense playoff game, is pretty unbelievable.”


Calle Jarnkrok (upper-body, day-to-day) and Yannick Weber (upper-body, day-to-day) were among the Nashville scratches in Game 1.

Game 2 of the series comes Saturday afternoon with a 2 p.m. CT puck drop from Bridgestone Arena. The series then shifts to Colorado for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday nights, respectively.

Pete Weber’s Postgame Report