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Luke Evangelista Peaking At Right Time For Playoff-Bound Predators



Photo of Luke Evangelista by John Russell/Nashville Predators

Filip Forsberg collected the puck as it bounced off the right boards, and in one fluid motion as his hips were still turning, he fired a shot toward the Chicago Blackhawks goal.

Directly in front of Arvid Soderblom was Luke Evangelista, who screened the Blackhawks goalie, distracting him just enough that he didn’t see Forsberg’s shot come screeching in just over his right shoulder and into the back of the net.


Those are the types of plays Evangelista has been making on a more consistent basis, and it’s exactly why head coach Andrew Brunette moved the 22-year-old forward up to the top line with Gustav Nyquist held out of the lineup for “roster-management purposes.”

“He’s not the biggest guy, but he sure took the ice away,” Forsberg said. “The puck doesn’t go in without [his screen].”

Added Brunette: “I thought he was really good. He’s trending, especially in the second half of the year, in a really positive way. He’s got the ability to think with those guys and he’s got a little moxie to make plays. So, I thought it was a great fit.”

In his elevated role, Evangelista tallied five shots on goal with a takeaway, and he assisted on two of Forsberg’s three goals — including his record-breaking 44th tally which set a new Predators single-season franchise record.

                       Photo via NHL Edge

The former second-round pick has had an under-the-radar rookie season in which he’s tied for the third-most points (37) and fourth-most in goals (16) among first-year Predators players.

Among NHL rookies, Evangelista is fifth in power-play points (10) and sixth in both goals and points. He also has the second-most shots (167) among first-year players behind only Connor Bedard.

Evangelista has really come on strong recently. He set a career high with 10 shots on goal two games prior, and Friday was his fourth multi-goal game of the season and the seventh of his career.

It seems Evangelista is peaking at the right time. He’s logged seven goals and 15 points in the 28 games since the All-Star break, and his added secondary scoring will come in handy come playoff time.

“I think [Evangelista] has been playing really good hockey as of late,” Forsberg added. “I thought he brought that tonight — patience with the puck, battling hard, he’s not the biggest guy, but he’s strong on his stick. It’s been great watching him develop throughout this season.”

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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