Nashville forward Filip Forsberg stunned his teammates and the Colorado Avalanche with one dazzling sequence.
Forsberg passed the puck to himself through his own legs and rookie defenseman Samuel Girard’s legs on his way to his second goal of the third period http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-weston-richburg-jersey , helping Nashville beat Colorado 5-2 on Thursday night in Game 1 of the first-round Western Conference series.
”That was unbelievable,” Predators forward Austin Watson said. ”I don’t know if you guys panned over to the bench, but all of our jaws dropped. He thinks of doing things out there that wouldn’t even happen in my dreams.”
Pekka Rinne made 25 saves as Nashville put together a strong finish to its playoff opener after winning Presidents’ Trophy for the first time this season. The Predators are hoping to take the next step this year after losing to Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Final.
Colorado was looking for a big win on a stage the franchise hasn’t seen since 2014, and the young Avalanche outplayed the defending Western Conference champs early.
Austin Watson had a goal and an assist for Nashville, which has won 11 straight over Colorado. Craig Smith and Colton Sissons also scored, and Ryan Johansen and captain Roman Josi each had two assists.
Nikita Zadorov and Blake Comeau scored for Colorado. Jonathan Bernier made 26 stops.
Forsberg, who had a team-high 64 points in the regular season, gave Nashville its first lead of the game at 3-2 when he redirected a shot by Josi past Bernier 6:08 into the third. Then Forsberg delivered again with a breathtaking move in the middle of Colorado’s zone with 7:50 left.
”It was just one of those that come us up I guess when you skate, and it worked,” Forsberg said.
Nashville coach Peter Laviolette was impressed.
”What I really liked about it, it was a power move,” Laviolette said. ”It was not just a standing-still move Kemoko Turay Color Rush Jersey , like he really picked up speed and did his best to drive. And I always feel like he’s best when he’s a power forward first and then he brings a skill element into it, and that’s exactly what he did on that goal.”
Game 2 is Saturday afternoon in Nashville.
The series features a team that won 53 games during the regular season and Colorado, which had to win its regular-season finale to squeak into the postseason ahead of St. Louis. The Avalanche came in with only 14 players with playoff experience, and their most seasoned player, Colin Wilson, was on Nashville’s roster a year ago.
”I’m happy with the way we played,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. ”I felt like we did enough to almost earn a better result but now we’re going to have to go and dig in even harder to make sure we do earn a better result. We’re capable.”
Fans filled the arena more than 30 minutes before the puck dropped, waiting for a pregame video that included a giant curtain that dropped down over the ice for a giant videoboard. Rascal Flatts handled the anthem as the Predators continued their tradition of big stars stepping in for the postseason, and two catfish hit the ice almost as soon as the last note ended.
Colorado scored on its first official shot. Rinne didn’t appear to see Zadorov’s wrister, with the puck going over his glove at 6:36.
The Predators were a bit sloppy early.
The team that led the NHL in penalties took two late in the first, giving Colorado 19 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage. Rinne seemed to settle the Predators down with a big save with 20 seconds left in the period, stopping Tyson Jost’s shot from the slot before sticking his right skate to the post with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog trying to pounce on the puck.
In the second http://www.saintsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-tre_quan-smith-jersey , Rinne got help from Matt Irwin clearing J.T. Compher’s shot, and the Predators tied it on a wrist shot from Watson that squeezed over Bernier’s left shoulder at 3:14. The goal was being announced when Comeau got a stick on Carl Soderberg’s shot from the point to give Colorado a 2-1 lead at 4:51.
”It shows us we’re right with them,” Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie said.
Rinne came up with his best save with 2:24 left in the second with Mikko Rantanen on a breakaway. The goalie spread out and stuck his right leg out, stopping the puck with his pad.
Sissons capped the scoring with an empty-netter with 1:57 left.
NOTES: Forsberg had his third career multigoal game in the postseason. He is averaging more than a point-per-game for his career against Colorado. … Nashville had been 12-14-5 after giving up the first goal and 8-10-2 when trailing after the first period in the regular season. But the Preds were 11-1-2 when tied after two periods. … Watson and Smith each had their fifth career goals of the playoffs.
Game 2 is Saturday in Nashville.
Drew Brees dispensed with technicalities regarding his contract and spoke as if his return to New Orleans next season was virtually assured.
”It’s the same way I felt two days ago. It’s the same way I felt 12 years ago. I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me,” Brees said Tuesday in the locker room at Saints headquarters, where players were packing up for the offseason following their dramatic elimination from the playoffs in Minnesota last weekend.
Brees acknowledged he’d have leverage if he chose to listen to offers from other clubs, but asserted that he has no plans to do so for professional and personal reasons.
The Saints have pieces in place to be a contender in upcoming seasons, having nearly advanced to the NFC title game with a roster featuring numerous first- and second-year regulars.
”Do I feel like this team has what it takes? Yes, I do,” Brees said.
Then there are Brees’ ever-deepening ties to New Orleans. He was 27 and childless when he arrived. Now he’s a father of four who turned 39 on Monday.
”Certainly, the relationship with this city will always play a strong role in me wanting to be here and … wanting to finish my career here,” Brees said.
And there’s no guarantee he’ll have better synergy with any coach than he’s had with Sean Payton.
”We have a great history together http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-nick-nelson-jersey ,” Brees said, recalling how Payton courted him in 2006 while he was still rehabilitating from major throwing-shoulder surgery. ”I’m here because he believed in me.”
Brees has since passed for 58,097 yards and 408 touchdowns, won a Super Bowl and led New Orleans to six playoff berths. This season, his completion rate of 72 percent set an NFL record.
Payton on Tuesday declined to discuss how the team will address Brees’ contract, saying now is ”not the time.”
But letting Brees go would be costly for New Orleans – financially and on the field.
Brees’ contract technically runs through 2018, but voids automatically when the new league year begins on March 14. That was done for two reasons. The Saints received salary cap flexibility they needed in 2016 by spreading Brees’ guaranteed money over two more years. Brees gained leverage because the Saints lose $18 million in salary cap space in 2018 if they fail to re-sign him.
That’s given Brees confidence that an extension is inevitable.
”I don’t plan on this being something that goes until March 14th,” said Brees, who also spoke about the 2018 Saints as if presuming he’ll be their QB.
”We have a great window of opportunity,” Brees said. ”I’ve been a part of talented teams in the past, though, that have not lived up to expectations. I’ve also been a part of teams that were just gutsy and gritty http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-arden-key-jersey , and surpassed expectations.
”Bottom line – success is dependent upon your willingness to work and the way that guys care about one another and the sense of urgency,” Brees continued. ”So while I think we do have a talented team, I know that each year you have to go out and prove it.”
Several players said they were still struggling to come to grips with the sudden, stunning end of their season on a 61-yard Vikings touchdown as time expired Sunday.
”I couldn’t stop thinking about it if I wanted to,” defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said. ”Hopefully it’ll be more fuel than anything and I can just go train as hard as I can.”
Payton wore a black track suit with Saints emblems on it, as if to symbolize that he is off and running in his effort to build upon the success of 2017.
”We have to look at every area we can improve – every area, not just one specific area,” Payton declared. ”There’s nothing promised. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Three significant contributors are entering free agency: safety Kenny Vaccaro, defensive end Alex Okafor and offensive lineman Senio Kelemete.
Meanwhile, 34-year-old right tackle Zach Strief, a Week 1 starter who spent most of the season on injured reserve, said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll retire. Strief likely would have to accept a pay cut and possibly a backup role if he returns. He’s due about $3.9 million next season and his successor Brent Suter Milwaukee Brewers Jersey , 2017 first-round draft choice Ryan Ramczyk, proved this season he was ready to step in. Strief also is rehabilitating from reconstructive knee surgery.
”No matter how you feel in the moment, sometimes when you’re in training camp and in your 12th year, you’re like, `Man, this is ridiculous. I’m tired of this,”’ Strief said. ”I felt like I was playing at a high level through training camp, and last year was one of my better years. So I think physically, it’s something I can do. But the reality is there’s as much mental preparation as physical.”