Filip Forsberg scored in his return and Pekka Rinne posted his fifth shutout as the Nashville Predators defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-0 on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. The result gives the Preds a clean sweep of the Kings in the three-game season series. Tonight’s contest saw Forsberg post two points as he returned from a month-long injury hiatus.
Icing a completely healthy lineup for the first time this season, Nashville dominated from start to finish, racing out to a 3-0 lead before the first period was over and holding the Kings to just 19 shots overall for their League-leading eighth blanking of an opponent this season.
“Tonight was a great game; it was one of our best 60-minute efforts in a while,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “It certainly is nice to have everybody back in there, having Filip [Forsberg] back it gives balance to the lines. Having Ryan [Ellis] back on defense it gives balance to the defense, you know, it’s just nice to have everybody back. It’s one game, you’ve got to move forward and get ready for the next one.”
From the opening drop of the puck, Nashville was all over Los Angeles, and halfway through the period, Craig Smith deposited a rebound on the power play for his 16th of the season and a 1-0 lead. Forsberg got his 16th six minutes later with a power-play marker of his own before Calle Jarnkrok jammed home a loose puck to put the Predators up by three after 20 minutes.
A Colton Sissons tally made it 4-0 after two periods and Viktor Arvidsson added his 16th in the final frame for Nashville’s fifth of the night – accented by a three-assist outing for Ryan Johansen – more than enough for cushion for Rinne, who only needed one anyway.
“I think we all have a lot of confidence in each other and we know the potential and skill that we have in this locker room,” Rinne said. “I think that our level of play has been up and down, but it’s a good sign that we’re still winning games. Tonight was the total opposite. We were dominating all 60 minutes and played a really solid game. I think this is obviously a step to the right direction and hopefully we can continue from here. I really liked the way we played.”
Around these parts, it’s known as Filbruary.
After missing 11 games due to injury, Filip Forsberg didn’t waste much time getting on the scoresheet. First, he set up Ryan Johansen for a goal that was eventually overturned due to goaltender interference, but minutes later, he got one of his own on the man advantage and then assisted on Arvidsson’s tally.
Just another night at the office.
“It was a big win for the team, and I was more than happy to help in that way,” Forsberg said of his offensive output. “I think I’ve been fortunate enough to skate throughout the whole injury. Obviously it was a little different in the game; I had to catch my breath a couple times, but everything else felt pretty good.”
The Swede’s marker was his 24th goal in the month of February over the past three years, and if history has shown anything, it’s only going to get better.
Forsberg’s impact has been well documented over the past few seasons, but after a month away from the ice, the ability to have a positive affect almost immediately is nothing to overlook.
“We could talk for days about him,” Johansen said of Forsberg. “It was really nice having him back. He makes me and Arvidsson a lot deadlier with him on our side. We had a lot of fun out there tonight supporting each other, outworking our opponents, getting some results, too, and finding the back of the net. It was a fun night.”
It’s just one game, but if this is what a healthy Predators lineup is capable of, the rest of the League should take note.
Skating with a full complement of players for the first time since the 2017 postseason, the Predators posted five goals on offense, while keeping their opponent off the scoresheet to boot, making for an impressive effort with their top 12 forwards and six defensemen of choice participating.
“When we’re all playing on the same page like we were tonight, playing within our system and going out there and executing our game plan really well, we’re a dangerous club,” Johansen said. “It’s exciting for us, because we’re super anxious to hopefully let these couple of months fly by as fast as possible and play for that Cup again. We understand, though, that we have to take it day by day and keep approaching every game and practice the way we approached the game tonight and we’ll be successful for sure.”
Pekka Rinne has posted consecutive shutouts in the regular season for the third time in his NHL career (also March 18-20, 2010 and Feb. 12-14, 2013).
Colton Sissons’s goal was his first in 29 games.
Nashville concludes their three-game home stand on Saturday night when the New York Rangers come to town before embarking on a four-game trip next week that will take them to Brooklyn and Eastern Canada.
Pete Weber’s Postgame Report