Rinne notches 3rd shutout of season, Predators top Leafs 4-0

Ruben Hill
January 10, 2019

And it's a flawless time to start getting healthy, too, as the team is in the middle of a six-game road trip and a stretch of games where they have to face some tough, tough teams (including Toronto, Columbus, Washington, Winnipeg, Colorado and Vegas all over the next eight games).

It was all Nashville going into the third period as a frustrated Toronto squad just couldn't hit the net, even though they had several open net opportunities. They were heavy on the puck, heavy on their sticks, detailed, blocked shots, competed. "I think a lot of times we have got leads and got away from our game".

Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist, and Mattias Ekholm, P.K. Subban and Colton Sissons scored for Nashville.

Nylander - unwittingly, of course - factored heavily into two of the Predators goals in the second period at Scotiabank Arena, and it was enough to help lift Nashville to a 4-0 victory before a somewhat disillusioned gathering of just more than 19,000. "Obviously defensively we played a great game, they only had 18 shots".

Michael Hutchinson stopped 28 shots for Toronto (27-13-2), which hit three posts and also had a goal called back for offside.

"Sometimes that's just the way it goes", said Leafs centre Auston Matthews, who found iron twice. "It's no excuse in this locker-room". "The biggest challenge for him and just like John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, just like any of those guys who think that they are the best at their position in the game, it's every day". "They've been through a lot of battles over the last few years and have really proven themselves and know how to win".

For the Leafs, who were shutout for the second time in their past four games, their next outing is on Thursday in New Jersey against the Devils. We're talking significant injuries to the best players on the team, and all around the exact same time. We make it tough.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Predators went ahead at 4:08 of the second period when Ekholm's shot from the point, through traffic, beat Hutchinson for his fifth of the season.

Toronto appeared to tie the game 43 seconds later when Matthews connected on a no-look pass from Andreas Johnsson. Nick Bonino cleanly won a face-off against Matthews back to Matt Irwin, who passed to Subban for a one-timer that deflected off William Nylander's stick.

After Rinne stopped Johnsson in front, Subban made it 2-0 with his fourth goal at 13:11.

Babcock said the young centre is fortunate that others on the team are equally industrious, setting a good tone for others on the club to follow.

"The urgency level has to be there".

That gives the Predators five out of a possible six points in their last three games.

Hutchinson kept his team in it with a glove save on Viktor Arvidsson with six minute left in regulation, but couldn't control a rebound that Sissons buried for his eighth with 2:37 left in regulation to seal it.

"They're a top-2, top-3 team in the league", Subban said. We did a good job of limiting their top players' opportunities. It still felt like in the first half of the game, I thought Toronto was really good.

Matthews blasted a shot off the post before Kasperi Kapanen also hit iron, but Babcock said his team didn't do almost enough overall.

"Their players were playing a real game", he said. "We didn't hold our end up".

Predators forward Filip Forsberg returned after missing 17 games because of an upper-body injury.

Through the first month-and-a-half of the 2018-19 season the Nashville Predators were rolling along as one of the best teams in the National Hockey League, just as they have over the previous two years.

After Wednesday, Chicago and Nashville are not set to meet again until the regular season finale on April 6 in Nashville.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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