After dropping a 2-1 game to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Nashville Predators dominated the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers with a healthy roster. However, the momentum didn’t last too long as Filip Forsberg was suspended on Sunday. Regardless, Nashville (69 points) is just two points behind the Winnipeg Jets in the Central Division and five points behind Las Vegas for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Forsberg suspended for three games by the NHL
After his recent return from an upper-body injury in Thursday’s game over the Kings, Forsberg is out once again with a three-game suspension from this hit on Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey. The hit did not look malicious, but Forsberg certainly got the best of Vesey when he wasn’t looking.
“Well after the puck is gone, outside the allowable window to finish a check, Forsberg delivers a high, forceful hit to Vesey that makes substantial head contact,” said the NHL.
While some penalty is reasonable, three games may be on the high end for such a hit. This is Forsberg’s first disciplinary run-in with the NHL in his six seasons.
Predators dominated top-notch goalies
With coming Forsberg back against Los Angeles, Nashville showed just how dangerous it could be with a healthy roster. Forsberg got back into the action early, scoring a goal in the first period against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick who just returned from injury. Nashville blanked Los Angeles 5-0 as Quick had just an .861 save percentage with 31 saves. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne also tallied his second consecutive shutout with 19 saves on the night.
Saturday night’s game against the Rangers featured plenty of action for Nashville. The Predators went up against recently-waived winger Cody McLeod who had a tribute video dedicated to him in Bridgestone Arena. However, the Predators spoiled McLeod’s return with an impressive 5-2 win over New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist who made just 23 saves on 27 shots faced.
“Every time they had a look, they were able to get a real good look, and they scored,” Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “We tried battling back but we weren’t able to do it.”
Goals by defenseman P.K. Subban and winger Kevin Fiala put Nashville up early, but the Rangers stormed back to make it 3-2 after a goal by Mika Zibanejad. However, the Predators duo of Viktor Arvidsson and Fiala finished it off with a pair of goals to put the nail in the coffin. Rinne notched his seventh straight win with 20 saves on the night.
Previewing matchup with the Islanders
The New York Islanders (26-22-5) host Nashville in the Empire State on Monday night in hopes to halt its two-game win streak. The Islanders are fresh off an impressive 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, as they snapped a two-game losing streak. With the win over the Blue Jackets, the Islanders secured the tie for the final wild-card slot in the Eastern Conference. With a win, New York can slide into the first wild-card spot over the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Predators come into this matchup with an 8-1-1 record in their last two games, but without a premier goal-scorer in Forsberg. Meanwhile, the Islanders will not be at full strength as defenseman Johnny Boychuk has been out for the past 16 games and forward Tanner Fritz is questionable for Monday night.
New York has given up over 39 shots in its last three games, which will not bid well for them considering Nashville’s success over Quick and Lundqvist last week. The Islanders also have the second-worst penalty kill in the NHL, while Nashville boasts the third best power play in the league. New York crushed the Predators in its last meeting as John Tavares notched a hat-trick in the 6-2 win over Nashville. Here is the projected lineup for Monday’s matchup.
Edited by Ben McKee
Featured image courtesy of NHL.com