The Toronto Maple Leafs lost Ondřej Kaše as well as the game in a one-sided violent affair. The Nashville Predators had their elbows and knees out in the 6-3 win as Erik Källgren took his first loss as a starter. The Leafs were always out of reach as the offense couldn’t get much going and the defense gave up a lot of big chances.
Erik Källgren made 28 saves on 33 shots in the loss, including multiple huge saves, but the Leafs defense fell apart in this game, in large portion to the offense struggling to create the possession they’re used to. Silly penalties making up for dirty hits also hurt the team as the Predators scored two power play goals.
Auston Matthews scored his 46th goal of the season and Mitch Marner scored his 25th and 26th goals, as well as three other posts for the team, but that was all the Leafs could muster against the violent Predators. They gave it a good fight with the 6v5, but it wasn’t enough. Too little too late.
Ondřej Kaše was elbowed in the head by Matt Duchene, causing him to lay on the ice and eventually stagger to the locker room. He didn’t return to the game, for obvious reasons. Duchene kneed Marner earlier in the game and complained about getting called for it the whole time. As you can see in the video, Duchene pulled his elbow up to hit Kaše right in the head.
Maple Leafs forward Ondřej Kaše will not return to tonight’s game in Nashville for precautionary reasons— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) March 20, 2022
Bad news, the Leafs gave up a lot of turnovers in the early parts of the game. Good news, Erik Källgren looked really solid in those saves. I definitely breathed a sigh of relief when he settled in like that.
The first line lost the puck high in the defensive zone, Bunting got beat easily on a pass wide, and Jeannot scored his 21st of the season. Why was Bunting all the way back there? Well that’s the price you pay for offense. The lack of zone time and control of the offensive zone definitely turned defense into offense for the Preds.
Marner got kneed by Duchene on a retaliatory hit (haven’t heard of those before) after Marner got hit by Johansen (who fell as the aggressor). Duchene was seen screaming from the penalty box as he got called for tripping.
Another look at the Duchene penalty on Marner pic.twitter.com/3BOtDIyG9x— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 19, 2022
With Holl in the box, Källgren makes another great save. The Predators played the back pass into the slot from behind a lot and Källgren did a great job tracking the puck and making reflex saves.
Looking at the replay, Marner definitely could’ve been better at stopping on his player instead of trying to hope zone defense works.
Not a great period for the Leafs, but a good period for Erik Källgren, who keeps making stops. While the Leafs technically led in shots, they gave up a lot off the rush because of turnovers as well as missed assignments in the defensive zone. The offense seemed unable to get much of anything going. They were losing battles and not moving as fast as the Predators. It also helps that they were playing fast and loose with penalties. They get away with a lot.
Sandin didn’t tie up his stick and Tolvanen tipped a shot up and over Källgren on the short side. It was a pretty good tip, but I didn’t give the other goalies the same benefits of the doubt. This definitely wasn’t Källgren’s worst goal against in his young career.
Eeli Tolvanen deflects a shot over Källgren pic.twitter.com/ntBeAj61st— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 20, 2022
Matt Duchene with a dirty elbow to the head of Ondřej Kaše, who was down on the ice and not looking good at all. The ref took a solid half minute to blow the whistle (I hate this rule to wait for possession to blow a whistle for an injured player, especially head injuries). It was awful. I hope Kaše is okay, but he doesn’t look good at all.
Thank you, Mitchy. Marner keeps scoring (seriously, he’s up to 25 now and on pace for 33!) He gets the Leafs back in the game.
Matthews worked for it on the forecheck— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 20, 2022
Bunting set it up pic.twitter.com/2b774kCF4P
A big shot from Mattias Ekholm beats Källgren high, restoring the two goal lead for Nashville. I’m still upset about the Kaše thing at this point. Shot might’ve gone off the helmet of Källgren.
Matthews hits the post hard on the next shift after the first line tried to throw their weight around. Still trying to figure out what Kyle Clifford thinks he’s here for. Marner nearly scored on a setup from Matthews on the power play a little later.
Matthews hits the post off a great Bunting feed pic.twitter.com/xZOhyUTLlZ— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 20, 2022
Ryan Johansen then cross checked Matthews into the lip of the boards, taking another penalty.
I still can’t think of anything beyond the Duchene hit on Kaše. Dirty, dangerous, awful. The Leafs announced pretty quickly in the second that Kaše wouldn’t return to the game.
Matthews gets the team back in the game with an early goal. The Leafs had a great start to the period and were completely dominant. It took two posts for Matthews to score, but he got enough volume that it eventually went in.
Marner makes everyone forget about Matthews pic.twitter.com/zVVQY7tiWn— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 20, 2022
Källgren got knocked down a little later on after Forsberg hit Holl.
Holl collides with Källgren— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 20, 2022
Initial contact made by Forsberg pic.twitter.com/bRljtI3Wwz
Källgren took a puck over glass penalty, BUT THEN HE IMMEDIATELY MADE UP FOR IT WITH TWO GAME-SAVING SAVES! Full-on cross ice passes through the royal road and Källgren got his pad on them both. Awful defense from the Leafs, amazing goaltending from Källgren.
Clifford then took a completely needless and useless penalty, pulling on the jersey of Carrier in the offensive zone. That was the first (and likely last) time I heard from him in this game. Completely useless.
The Leafs lose a stick, don’t block out the side of the net, and Forsberg scores on the power play.
Filip Forsberg scores a milestone goal pic.twitter.com/FFekpk7Txa— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 20, 2022
The Leafs pushed too much on offense and gave up a 2-on-1 the other way. Källgren bobbled the initial shot, with Duchene getting the rebound.
Marner got on back with five minutes to go with the empty net thanks to a stick from Josi. Assist to Nylander on the goal with Tavares in front as the initial target.