Predators shut out Maple Leafs, gain in Central race
The Nashville Predators moved to within one point of first place in the Central Division with a 3-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.
Pekka Rinne made 22 saves in his fourth shutout of the season for the Predators (42-27-5), who trail the Winnipeg Jets.
“Really good defense,” Rinne said. “Against a team like that, you’ve got to do it, not only the defensemen, but the forwards as well, as a unit of five. They did a really good job all night.”
The Maple Leafs (43-25-5), who are 1-4-0 in their past five games, trail the Boston Bruins by six points for second place in the Atlantic Division.
“I think we understood the way they play,” Toronto forward Auston Matthews said. “I mean, the shots were [22-20], so we know they don’t give up much. I don’t think we necessarily gave up much either. They capitalized on some opportunities. Obviously, that goal there for them in the first was pretty big. We had some opportunities. Their goalie came up big, but I think we understood the way they play and how they don’t really give up much.”
Brian Boyle gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 4:47 of the first period with a one-timer from the slot on a give-and-go with Craig Smith.
“I gave it to [Smith] so he could shoot,” Boyle said. “I tried to pump fake to get him the open shot, and he must have seen that the [defense] was cheating on him a little bit. He gives it right back, and it was right in the wheelhouse. It was perfect, so it would’ve been hard to mess that one up.”
They said it
“I tried to relax a little bit more and not try too hard. I think that was certainly the main key. I think I got a little bit too aggressive on the first goal, but other than that, I played pretty well and felt great. A step forward for me as well.” — Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, who allowed six goals in his previous start and four in each of the two prior to that
“To be honest, I think guys are just starting to work harder as a team. Everyone. All five guys on the ice. Like, [Ryan Johansen] blocked a shot at the end. That’s huge. It may not happen every night, but guys are sacrificing. As you get into playoffs, everyone is going to have to do the little things, whether it be blocking shots, good stick lifts, taking hits to make plays. Whatever it is, everyone’s got to do it. I think the last three games have been a good sign of that.” — Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis
Need to know
Maple Leafs defenseman Martin Marincin missed the game because he was ill. … Toronto forward Mitchell Marner had a game-high six shots on goal. … The Predators shut out the Maple Leafs each of their two games this season (4-0 in Toronto on Jan. 7). … Nashville forward Kyle Turris returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch the previous two games.
Maple Leafs: At the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, MSG-B, NHL.TV)
Predators: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)