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Maple Leafs dominate Predators, win 5-2

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A great return from the break

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

First Period

  • [17:21] Pretty boring game through the first three minutes, as it’s a lot of neutral zone foreplay without any offense.
  • [15:48] Well that changed in a hurry! Dante Fabbro makes a great pass in the offensive zone, but the Leafs make a good defensive play and the puck falls to Rasmus Sandin. He makes an immediate Hail Mary pass to a streaking William Nylander who goes in alone and scores. 1-0 Leafs. Real nice play from Sandin and Nylander there.
  • [15:07] The Predators answer right back. The Predators get a 3-on-1 and Mikael Granlund pots it past Andersen.
    Holl pinches and Marner does a half-assed stick check rather than move his feet as the puck goes the other way, which led to the chance, and ultimately, the goal. It was a nice pass from Matt Duchene too. 1-1 tie.
  • [13:33] Viktor Arvidsson finds himself all alone in the slot, but Andersen keeps it out to keep the game tied.
  • [12:48] And the Leafs answer right back too! A strong shift from the Matthews line after an offensive zone faceoff sees the Leafs get an extended amount of zone time. Eventually, Marner throws it on net from the half-boards, and Hyman pokes it home from his office. 2-1 Leafs.
  • [11:12] I take back everything I said about this game being boring in the first three minutes. I can’t remotely keep up with the chances at both ends right now.
  • [9:42] Barrie loses the puck in his own zone while trying to skate the puck out, and Nick Bonino picks his pocket to fire a snapper at Freddie, that the latter saves well.
  • [8:34] Muzzin makes a pretty silly play, touching a puck that the Predators had high-sticked down in the Leafs zone. He’s unable to break the puck out and the Leafs are forced to defend and concede some point shots with tips.
  • [4:20] The Leafs have had a couple really good chances, but from my eye test, it seems like the Predators are forechecking well and neutering the Leafs breakouts.
  • [2:19] An attempted Leafs carry-in to the Predators zone gets turned over and goes the other way - Arvidsson launches a slapper from the top of the circle that Andersen saves, but boy, he looks shaky doing it.
  • [0:00] End of a pretty wild period, but it ends with the good guys winning.

Second Period

  • [19:17] Nylander gets a nice chance off the rush to start the second, but Pekka Rinne saves it, as well as the rebound.
  • [15:19] Sandin scores! Another great shift from the Tavares line and Sandin - Ceci. Nylander has a nice touch pass to Kerfoot who emerges from the corner with the puck and slams it into Rinne, who gets scrambled and out of position. The rebound falls to Sandin, who fires it off the post and in. 3-1 Leafs.
  • [14:42] By the way, Kapanen is out for the rest of the game with an arm injury- honestly have no clue where that happened.
  • [12:02] Tavares has had a really quietly effective defensive game, to my eye. Nylander has been the offensive star, but JT has done all the little things well.
  • [10:54] I feel like I haven’t mentioned anyone in the Leafs top six or defense today, but they’ve really done almost nothing with the puck. As I say that Pierre Engvall has a nice forecheck and gets a shot away, but nothing particularly dangerous.
  • [10:19] As for the Leafs defense, I haven’t noticed them aside from a few bad turnovers and what Sandin has done with his passing.
  • [10:03] The Leafs draw a penalty and will head to the power play, as Nick Bonino gets the gate for hooking.
  • [8:54] Pretty disjointed power play for the Leafs, as they’re mostly unable to get their setup
  • [8:34] Marner rings a shot off the post, but no other chances to speak of on the power play.
  • [7:34] But they get a chance right after the power play, and they score! Jason Spezza just walks in from the slot and absolutely lasers it beyond Rinne from the dot. 4-1 Leafs.
  • [6:58] I said the bottom six hasn’t done much, and then Spezza scores and Engvall gets a breakaway! Unfortunately, he’s stoned by Rinne both on the initial attempt and the rebound.
  • The Leafs have done a way better job this period at getting consistent possession in the offensive zone, and more importantly, stymying the Predators attempts to get anything going offensively. They’ve been strong defensively (or depending on your perspective, the Predators have been unable to win puck battles down low against an ostensibly soft Leafs team).
  • [3:48] Engvall gets another breakaway, but once again can’t convert.
  • [3:23] The Leafs take a penalty, as Holl goes off for interference.
  • [2:43] Andersen makes a ridiculous save on Kyle Turris, after he receives a cross-ice pass from Matt Duchene. To add insult to injury for Turris, he immediately takes a hooking penalty to negate the power play.
  • [0:00] Period ends, and hard to complain about that - wonderful period from Toronto.

Third Period

  • [18:38] Ceci makes a nice defensive play to strip Matt Duchene of the puck when the latter was bearing down on the goalie.
  • [16:53] Nylander takes a shift with Gauthier and Spezza (as the Leafs are down to 11 Fs) and they somehow generate some great chances in tight, led in part by smart and measured offensive quarterbacking from Sandin and Ceci.
  • [14:16] Sandin has had a wonderful game - on that shift I mention above, he had a beautiful pass to Matthews, which in a just world, would have ended in a goal.
  • [12:54] Ekholm takes a point shot after a faceoff win from the Predators and Andersen has no clue where it is. He basically does a barrel roll and manages to smother a weak Craig Smith shot on net. Dermott did some nice work to prevent Smith getting solid contact
  • [11:20] Nashville has had no clue how to deal with the Leafs offensive zone roaming. It’s opened up the points massively, and with Muzzin there instead of Marincin, it makes a notable difference. And of course, Sandin / Barrie / Dermott are guys you typically trust with time and space to find passing lanes and create plays that will ultimately lead to chances, especially with the Leafs level of forwards.
  • [8:52] A tic-tac-toe pass from Tavares to Kerfoot to Nylander sees the latter all alone in the slot, but his one-time shot is saved brilliantly by Rinne.
  • [7:08] Nashville scores! Off an offensive zone draw, Mattias Ekholm wires a shot that Andersen saves, but the rebound falls to Arvidsson. 4-2 Leafs.
  • [6:55] The Leafs had defended quite well, generally speaking, but that is an annoyance, making the game slightly more worrisome than it otherwise would be.
  • [4:28] That goal has gone straight to the Predators’ legs. They’re all over the Leafs right now, even thought it’s probably still too little too late.
  • [2:34] More Nashville pressure and chances, but the Leafs are defending relatively competently. They’re just having to do a lot of it. The Preds pull Rinne.
  • [1:33] Matthews gets the empty net goal to seal the win.
  • [0:00] Game over! Next up are the Stars on Wednesday.