Filip Forsberg scored two goals Sunday night while Juuse Saros made 29 saves and also added an assist as the Nashville Predators moved to the brink of the Central Division title with a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Ryan Johansen and Craig Smith also scored for Nashville, which bounced back from a stunning 7-4 loss Saturday night to Buffalo and notched its 51st win of the season. The Predators have 113 points, seven ahead of Winnipeg in the division, and need just one more point from their final three games or a Jets loss to clinch the division and the top seed for the Western Conference playoffs.
The result also put Nashville three points ahead of Boston for the top record in the NHL, a distinction that would give it home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs. It also put Tampa Bay two points behind the Bruins in the Atlantic Division heading into the season’s final week.
Johansen started the scoring at 7:50 of the first period with his 14th goal off a quick counter-attack. Forsberg got Johansen the puck at the blue line and the center led a classic rush, stopping at the inside edge of the left circle to wire a wrister by Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Forsberg made it 2-0 on the power play at 2:46 of the second period with his first man-advantage marker in two months. He was the recipient of puck luck, as his wrister from the high slot deflected off defenseman Anton Stralman and trickled through Vasilevskiy’s pads.
Stralman bounced back from the bad break, taking the puck from Austin Watson in the Predators’ defensive zone and feeding Ondrej Palat in the high slot. Palat’s wrister deflected off the heel of Saros’ catching glove and bounced into the net at 7:32 of the second for his 10th goal.
But the Predators decided matters with two goals in a 3:05 span of the third period.
Forsberg skated around Dan Girardi from the left wing and slipped a wrister past the stick of Vasilevskiy at 6:24 for his 23rd marker.
Smith potted his 23rd at 9:29, with P.K. Subban adding his second assist of the night.
Vasilevskiy finished with 21 saves.
—Field Level Media