Prior to this season, Sergei Krivokrasov and Jason Arnott were the only Nashville Predator forwards to have ever played in an NHL All-Star Game. And, of the five different skaters to have represented Nashville over the years, none had scored a goal.
After a long shift in the second period, Filip Forsberg took a Johnny Gaudreau pass and put it past Marc-Andre Fleury for the first ever Predators goal in an All-Star Game.
“I just got a text from a buddy who said that,” Forsberg said. “The Preds have been in the league for a long time now so it’s pretty cool that I was the first one.”
Team Toews would go onto beat Team Foligno 17-12 in the highest scoring All-Star Game of all-time but this game was more about the experience than the final score.
“It wasn’t the highest tempo game I’ve played in my career but it was fun just to watch all the good players out there,” the Preds rookie said. “It’s really cool to be here with these guys. You’ve been looking up to most of them for as long as you can remember so it’s really awesome to be here.”
Forsberg finished the night with two goals on two shots, his second goal being the tally that broke the all-time All-Star Game record for most total goals. Not bad considering he wasn’t originally slated to even play Sunday.
Shea Weber, now a four-time All-Star, was paired with his former defense partner Ryan Suter throughout the evening. The Preds captain ended the contest with an assist, a plus-4 rating, two blocked shots, a couple prime scoring chances and an aggressive takeaway when Drew Doughty carried the puck into the zone against him one-on-one.
“It’s special,” Weber said about the weekend. “Any chance you get to come to one of these events – to be named an All-Star in the league – it’s something you don’t take for granted. It’s not easy. You put a lot of hard work into it as a kid so, to get the recognition, it’s pretty special.”
And then there was the coaching staff. Nashville bench boss Peter Laviolette capitalized on a rare opportunity to have his daughter by his side.
“She came in after the first period and said ‘Dad, nobody’s hitting anybody out there,’” he said with a smile. “I said ‘I think that’s how we want it.’ We had a lot of fun.”
Unfortunately, there was one major absence as well.
Pekka Rinne was named to the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, he was shelved for “3-5 weeks” with a lower-body injury on January 15 and, therefore, was forced to miss out.
“I was a little disappointed that he got hurt because obviously it’s going to effect our team for a couple games but also because he’s been so good for us every year,” Weber said. “It’s tough because there are certain things that come up that you think he should get the accolades for but he doesn’t.”
The 2010 Finnish Olympic team comes to mind. As does the 2012 All-Star Game despite Rinne eventually sporting a 43-18-8 record, placing the fourth in the Hart Trophy balloting and being named the runner-up for the Vezina that season.
“At the same time, he was still named to the team,” Weber said. “He’s still one of the best goalies in the league. Hopefully people realize that and give him the recognition he deserves.”
In short, the Predators represented well in Columbus and have every reason to be excited for next year as the host team.
Perhaps Rinne will make his All-Star Game debut on his own home ice.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover // TheGameNashville.com