Through the first 10 games of this season, the Nashville Predators have gone as Filip Forsberg has gone.
The 26-year-old forward had perhaps the best game of his career Thursday night, scoring two goals — including the game winner in overtime — and three assists for the first five-point game of his career in Nashville’s 6-5 OT win over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.
The win gives Nashville a 5-5-0 record.
“As a top-line player, you want to get on the score sheet,” Forsberg said. “But it’s more about the feel of the game. I thought I had a couple of shifts that were okay to start and then I got going after that. There’s nights where you don’t get rewarded and you can’t look at the score sheet too much. But at the same time, it’s obviously great to be a part of such a big win like we had.”
Forsberg is just the fifth player in franchise history to record a five-point game and only the second forward. Roman Josi, J.P Dumont, Dan Hamhuis and Marek Zidlicky were the others.
Thursday was the 23rd multi-goal game of Forsberg’s career and just his second three-assist game. He is the first Predators player to crack double-digit points this season.
“In this league, every player is a good player and then there’s guys that have different levels of talent, and Fil’s a guy that has a high level of talent,” Preds coach John Hynes said. “He kind of has the combination of physical skills, hand skills, shot and good hockey sense and he’s a competitive player. To his credit, he’s come in with the right mindset this year.
“I think he is playing the game the right way, and this is the type of player he can become. He’s only 26, so I think it’s also learning what is going to take for him to be a leader of a team, to drive a team and maximize his talent. To date this season, he’s taken the right steps with how he’s playing.”
Forsberg’s performance on Thursday was nothing short of impressive. He nearly single-handedly kept the Predators in the game for three periods.
Down one midway through the first period, Forsberg got the Predators on the board on the power play, an area in which Nashville has strongly needed a jolt this year. Then, he set up Calle Jarnkrok for another tying goal near the end of the first period.
Trailing 3-2 in the second, Forsberg set up Matt Duchene for his first goal of the year and tying the game for the third time. In the final period, Forsberg assisted on Josi’s goal to bring Nashville to within 5-4 before Duchene scored minutes later to send the game to overtime, where Forsberg closed it out with his sixth goal of the season.
“Fil, I think he had a magnet on his stick tonight, he was unbelievable,” Duchene said. “He could have had 10 points tonight. I mean, the plays he was making and everything seemed to almost go in that he touched tonight. So, I guess I was a beneficiary of just being on the ice as the same time as him tonight.”
Some of Forsberg’s better games the last two season have come with Duchene as his center and Mikael Granlund as his other winger. The trio has natural chemistry that they’ve appeared to carry over from last year. Thursday was the second straight game they played on the same line, accounting for five goals and nine points in those games.
If Hynes keeps the three together, it could be the start of some long nights for the defenses in the Central Division.
“I think we all kind of think the same way,” Forsberg said. “We all want to play offense, we all want to hold onto the puck in the offensive zone and we obviously got to play together for 10, almost 20 games last season. I thought we were playing really good hockey at those moments as well and I think (Duchene) and (Granlund) are great skaters with great vision and I try to be more of a power forward when I play with these guys and try to complement each other pretty well.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_