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 Jake Butt 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 Marqise Lee Jersey ,” Laviolette said. ”It was not just a standing-still move, 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 Cornelius Lucas Jersey , 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, 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.
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster said he is using his legal problems that he feared could cost him his football career this offseason as a learning tool going forward now that he has been cleared of the most serious charges.
Foster spoke to the media on Saturday for the first time since he was charged in April for felony domestic assault and later exonerated when the accuser recanted her story and a judge found no other credible evidence.
"I learned every day I have to go harder at everything I do now to better myself even more," Foster said. "It's like do or die. Just don't mess up. ... It's like how I'm trying to craft my career, I have to craft my life."
Foster spent much of his offseason dealing with legal issues rather than preparing for his second season in the NFL. He was charged in January in Alabama with second-degree marijuana possession. That charge was eventually dismissed after he completed a first-time offender diversion course.
Foster then faced more serious charges for an incident in California in February. He was initially charged in April with felonies for domestic violence, making criminal threats and weapons possession after being accused of beating up his ex-girlfriend.
A judge ruled there was no probable cause on the first two charges after the ex-girlfriend recanted the allegations and the judge found no other evidence to support the charges. The weapons charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and Foster pleaded no-contest to that in June.
He was sentenced to two years' probation, 232 hours of community service, and $235 in fines.
Foster declined to discuss specifics of the case on Saturday and is just thankful to be back with his teammates on the field.
"It made me appreciate football a lot better Sean Mannion Jersey ," he said. "It was crazy knowing that football could be gone. Just being back on this field with my brothers and these coaches is a blessing."
Foster missed about a month of the offseason program while dealing with the legal issues and will also be suspended without pay for the first two games of the regular season for violating the NFL's conduct and substance-abuse policy.
He is able to take part in training camp and play the exhibition games, but must sit out San Francisco's games against Minnesota and Detroit before being allowed to return on Sept. 17 before the Niners play Kansas City.
"It was painful," Foster said of the punishment. "It's football, something I do, something I love. It is what it is. Accept the consequences, you take it and you move on. You learn from it, too, and you grow from it."
The 49ers stood behind Foster even as he was not allowed at the facility. But coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have made clear that Foster must get his life in order and avoid further legal trouble if he wants to remain part of the organization.
"I think Reuben's done a great job just handling it," Shanahan said. "What they originally charged him with is as bad of a thing as you can imagine. It's a very embarrassing thing because of how bad it was. To have all that scrutiny on you and to have to go through that, I think would be a challenge for any human being. That would mess a lot of people up.
"I've been really, very impressed with Reuben in how he handled it Mario Addison Jersey , the process he went through while it was going on and after it got dropped, how he's handled himself since. I know he learned a lot through it. We talked about it a lot at the beginning, that some things seem so bad but if you get through it, it can be a good thing in the long run. If you handle it right, it can enlighten you in some things and help you grow. I really think it has for Reuben and I think it's benefited him in the long run."
Foster said he appreciated the support, especially from teammates who came to court in a public show of support. One of those teammates was Richard Sherman, who barely knew Foster after signing with the team in March.
Sherman and Foster now have lockers next to each other.
"That's real. He's a man for that," Foster said of Sherman coming to court in April. "I respect Richard Sherman for that, coming to court and supporting me. Just being there for me at the hard times."
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