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Focus on Forsberg as Predators, Avalanche collide

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Filip Forsberg usually waits until February to get as hot as he is right now.

The Nashville Predators forward, who needed 32 games to score his fifth goal last season, required only five games to pull it off this season. Forsberg netted his fifth in the second period Saturday night during a 2-1 overtime loss at Chicago.

It stands to reason that Forsberg will be a guy the Colorado Avalanche have to focus on when they play their Central Division rivals Tuesday night in Bridgestone Arena.

Forsberg finished with 30 or more goals in each of the past two seasons despite slow starts. It is easy to wonder what mark he could reach if he marries this quick start with his normally fast finish.

And Forsberg is skating against his favorite mark to start the week. In 16 career games against Colorado, Forsberg has 10 goals and eight assists with three game-winners and a plus-16 rating. He burned the Avalanche for a hat trick on Feb. 24 in the teams' most recent meeting, a 4-2 Nashville win.

"It's always good to help the team win games," he said after notching a goal and an assist Thursday night in the Predators' 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. "If I score goals and we don't win games, it doesn't really matter."

Last season, when Forsberg was struggling to light the lamp, coach Peter Laviolette praised his performance, feeling Forsberg was still creating plenty of good chances. However, the coach who has taken three teams to Stanley Cup Finals isn't denying that this version of Forsberg is more helpful than the one who was just missing the net.

"Him getting off the mark is big for our team," Laviolette said. "We look for everyone to contribute, but we really look for the goal-scorers to deliver that."

The Predators (2-2-1) came from ahead in Chicago, giving up the equalizer late in the third period and then falling for the 21st time in their past 27 overtime games. It was a tough ending to a game in which they outshot the Blackhawks 38-33.

Colorado (4-2-0) is off to a good start under second-year coach Jared Bednar, despite a 3-1 loss Saturday night in Dallas. The Avalanche are getting good work from veteran goalie Semyon Varlamov, who has a .944 save percentage in his first four games.

Center Matt Duchene, who has been part of numerous trade rumors involving Nashville over the last year-plus, and former Montreal prospect Sven Andrighetto each have six points in six games.

While six games is a small sample size, it is encouraging considering last season's results, when the Avalanche finished with a minus-90 goal differential and the NHL's worst record.

"It's a good learning lesson for this group," Bednar said after the loss in Dallas. "It is the first time we've realized that we didn't leave it all on the line for 60 minutes, and that's something we have to do every night."

Colorado center Tyson Jost (knee) should return Tuesday night after missing the past two games.

Nashville captain Roman Josi (lower-body injury) might be back after sitting out the past three games.