NASHVILLE — Filip Forsberg can’t remember ever being on a hot streak like this.
Forsberg scored three goals during a 14-minute span to start the second period, leading the Predators to their fourth straight win.
“Maybe when I was playing in pee-wee or something like that I probably had a few hat tricks, but not like this,” Forsberg said. “I’m just trying to get open. I guess that’s the biggest thing.”
Forsberg has a team-high 26 goals this season, including 12 in February. He posted his first regular-season hat trick in a 3-2 win at Toronto on Tuesday night.
“When he plays with a pace and he does things fast with the puck, he becomes really difficult to defend,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s got a lot of confidence. He’s in a stretch right now where he’s playing really good hockey.”
Rinne became the fifth active goalie to record 40 career shutouts. A Vezina Trophy finalist last season, the Finnish goalie is 4-0-1 in his last five starts.
“Trying not to think about it too much,” Rinne said. “That’s the thing when you feel like you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself and things are not going your way, it can be hard. You overthink things and make things more complicated for yourself and right now it’s just hockey. It’s fun.”
Nashville ended a four-game losing streak to St. Louis, including shutout defeats in the last two games at Bridgestone Arena.
St. Louis made things tough on itself by taking seven penalties, which led to one of Nashville’s goals.
“We can’t keep taking these penalties,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’re killing our PK guys. They’ve got no energy to play on offence. So we don’t have the energy to play offensively in the O-zone when we do get it fresh 5-on-5. We’re dead from killing penalties.”
St. Louis has taken 14 penalties in its last three games.
Forsberg increased Nashville’s lead to 2-0 when he poked home a rebound into the left side of an open net 54 seconds into the second period. Forsberg struck again when he beat Allen glove-side with a wrist shot, building the Predators’ lead to 3-0 at 5:38 of the second period.
Smith set him up with a drop pass for his second assist of the night and 11th of the season.
Forsberg completed his hat trick when he beat Allen high blocker-side with a power-play snap shot from the left faceoff circle, increasing Nashville’s advantage to 4-0 at 14:44 of the second period.
St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk was in the box for tripping, the Blues’ sixth penalty during the first two periods. Nashville had three during the first 40 minutes.
“(Filip) is working to get to the areas that you need to score in and he’s really bearing down, and just putting it in,” Smith said. “He’s just being hungry to score and getting his stick in areas and disrupting plays, making plays. And it’s working out.”
Forsberg’s first career hat trick came during his rookie season in a Western Conference quarterfinal playoff win over Chicago last April.
Colin Wilson made it 5-0 when he fired a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle at 4:37 of the third period.
“Anytime something like this happens, it (stinks),” Blues defenceman Jay Bouwmeester said. “It happens to everybody. In the third period, we did some good things. We had some chances.”
NOTES: Smith’s 14th goal of the season came 18 seconds after Nashville’s Petter Granberg and St. Louis’ Troy Brouwer were sent to the penalty box for fighting. … St. Louis made a goalie swap, acquiring Anders Nilsson from Edmonton for Niklas Lundstrom and a fifth-round in selection in June’s draft. Nilsson is 10-12-2, with a 3.14 goals against average and .901 save percentage this season. He was sent to the AHL team in Chicago. … Rinne has stopped 66 of the last 67 shots he’s faced. … Nashville played four games in the last six days, winning all of them.